Ohio Attorney General Loses Motion to Relegate Democrats to ‘Friend’ Status in Redistricting Lawsuit

Senator Vernon Sykes and Allison Russo
by J.D. Davidson


The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with two Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission and denied a motion from Attorney General Dave Yost to relegate the two to “friend of the court” status in ongoing legal challenges to new state legislative districts.

Commission co-chair Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, and House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, called Yost’s motion an attempt to silence the two, who had voted against the original maps and ones reconfigured by order of the court.

“I am relieved to see that a fair process is continuing in the courts,” Russo said. “We spoke up for the people against unconstitutional maps, while the Attorney General tried to silence us. AG Yost should not have tried to put his thumb on the scale in this process. Now, we wait the court’s decision on the submitted maps and let the process play out with greater transparency.”

Yost’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

Russo said Yost was attempting to limit the Democrats’ response to the lawsuits, which named the commission, along with its seven members as individual respondents.

“We all know that access to the courts is a fundamental American right. That’s why we are taking a stand against the Attorney General’s attempts to silence us in the challenges to these unconstitutional district maps. It’s very simple. We are respondents in these three cases,” Russo said. “We had important information to bring to the court, so we had no choice but to represent ourselves pro se to make sure it saw the light of day.”

After declaring original maps were unconstitutional and unfairly favored Republicans, the supreme court ordered a map that more closely reflected the state’s 54% Republican to 46% Democrat voting breakdown. The first maps favored the GOP by 62% in the House and nearly 70% in the Senate.

The commission recently submitted new maps give the GOP a 57-42 advantage in the House and a 20-13 advantage in the Senate. The court has not ruled on the new maps, and the commission asked to have those maps stand at least through this year’s general election in November and then have the court decide on their constitutionality.

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Vernon Sykes” by Senator Vernon Sykes and photo “Allison Russo” by Allison Russo.



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