by J.D. Davidson
The Ohio Supreme Court has given the Ohio Redistricting Commission until noon Wednesday to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet a deadline for new state legislative maps.
The commission missed an 11:59 p.m. Feb. 17 court-ordered deadline to submit a third set of maps after the court ruled the first two were unfairly gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
The commission met for roughly four hours Feb. 17 before recessing and later declaring it was at an impasse, missing the deadline and leaving questions surrounding both the next steps and Ohio’s May 3 primary.
“…respondents ordered to show cause by filing a response with the clerk of this court no later than 12:00 p.m. on February 23, 2022, why respondents should not be found in contempt for failure to comply with this court’s February 7, 2022 order. The clerk shall refuse to file a response that is untimely,” the order reads.
Democrats said the lack of movement has left the state in a state of confusion.
“The Ohio Legislative map-making process has ventured into new territory as the commission adjourned without approving maps,” Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, president of the Ohio Legislative Black caucus, said. “This entire process has left many Ohioans, including voters and elected officials in a state of confusion on what the future holds.”
The court ruled Feb. 7 the commission’s second attempt that preserved Republican majorities was unconstitutional and ordered the commission to adopt a new plan, saying if the commission would have used its time more wisely and been committed to working together to find a map that met court guidelines, it could have been accomplished.
The court ordered the commission to pass and file a new plan with Secretary of State Frank LaRose by Thursday and file a copy with the court by Friday. The court retained jurisdiction to review the third set of maps.
The commission’s first maps favored the GOP by 62% in the House and nearly 70% in the Senate. The second set of maps showed 58.3% Republican-leaning legislative districts, above the court-ordered 54%.
The commission includes Republicans Gov. Mike DeWine; Huffman; House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima; State Auditor Keith Faber; and LaRose; and Democrats House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington; and Sykes.
The commission has called a meeting for noon Tuesday regarding congressional districts. The court also ruled the original districts created by the General Assembly unfairly favored Republicans and sent them to be redrawn by lawmakers.
A 30-day deadline to create those new districts passed, sending them to the commission for another 30 days.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist for The Center Square 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.