by J.D. Davidson
Federal judges made good on a promise at midnight Saturday by implementing Ohio state legislative district maps that were previously ruled unconstitutional twice by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, by a vote of 2-1, also ordered the state to hold its second primary Aug. 2.
“Given the factual record before us, two reasons justified our approach. First, no map had won the approval of both the Commission and the Ohio Supreme Court. And second, Map 3 gave the state the most time to fix its own problem. That broke the tie,” the order, signed by judges Amul Thapar and Benjamin Beaton, read.
The order came from a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican voters.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose tweeted late Friday he would soon issues a directive for boards of election to prepare for the Aug. 2 primary. LaRose has said that primary could cost the state as much as $20 million.
Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, and House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, the two Democratic members of the seven-member commission (pictured above), sent a letter to other commission members asking for a meeting before June 3, the Supreme Court-imposed deadline to submit a new set of maps.
“This is a sad day for democracy. The federal court’s ruling rewarded lawlessness, partisanship, and unchecked power that Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected twice at the ballot box,” House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington and a commission member, said in a statement. “There is no justice in denying voters the opportunity for fair and free elections that use constitutional maps. Corruption and extremism will continue in Ohio until politicians in power put the voices of voters ahead of politics.”
The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s third set of state district maps have been ruled unconstitutional twice by the Supreme Court, most recently May 25 when it called the commission’s actions a “stunning rebuke of the rule of law.”
Republicans had resubmitted the third set of maps – tossed out once before by the court – because they said they did not have time to draw new maps.
The Supreme Court has said each of the four sets of maps presented by the commission were unfairly gerrymandered to favor Republicans,
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J.D. Davidson is a regular contributor to The Center Square. An Ohio native, 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.