by Tyler Arnold
Ohio Senate Republicans plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court’s ruling that the state’s district lines are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor the GOP.
“We look forward to appealing today’s decision, and ultimately, to seeing it reversed by the Supreme Court,” Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said in a news release.
“Make no mistake, this politically-motivated lawsuit was brought for the sole purpose of helping Democrat candidates win more seats,” Obhof said. “It does so at the expense of Ohio’s voters, who would be forced to vote under three different congressional maps in four calendar years. That is bad public policy and is unfair to the people of Ohio. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected similar challenges over the past year.”
The ruling followed a lawsuit spearheaded by the League of Women Voters with representation from the ACLU. The three-judge panel unanimously decided that the state legislature will be required to create new maps in time for the 2020 elections.
Per the judge’s order, Ohio must create new district maps that fix the violations by June 14 and submit the plan to the judges by June 21. These lines will have to be passed through both chambers of the legislature, which have Republican majorities, and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, who is a Republican.
New district lines have to take effect in time for the 2020 elections.
If the state cannot agree on a plan by the deadline, then the court will designate a special master to draw the lines on its behalf.
“Today’s victory ensures that voters’ voices will be restored,” Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio said in a news release. “Ohio voters have been without fair congressional district maps since 2011, and the panel’s decision today means that they will be fairly represented in future elections.”
The ACLU also applauded the ruling.
“The court rejected Ohio’s manipulated map, finding it an extreme gerrymander,” ACLU Staff Attorney Alora Thomas-Lundborg said in a statement. “This decision follows the trial in which the map was rightly dubbed a ‘geographic monstrosity.’ This court joins others nationwide that have struck down this unconstitutional practice.”
The League of Women Voters received a similar win in Michigan last week in a federal court against partisan gerrymandering by Republicans. The Republicans appealed this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. In Virginia, a court ruled that district lines were racially gerrymandered. This also has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court has not yet decided whether it will take up these cases.
Last year, Pennsylvania was forced to change its maps and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The Supreme Court did recently take up gerrymandering lawsuits in North Carolina and Maryland, which the court is expected to rule on in June.
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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia, Ohio and Michigan for Watchdog.org. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.