A Triumph for Redistricting Reform

Rick already linked to the Ohio Supreme Court decision striking down the state’s legislative district plans because of their disproportionality and partisan intent. It’s worth flagging that this is the first time a pure partisan effect provision has been enforced by a state supreme court. The court’s analysis vindicates all the effort that has been poured into enacting these provisions at the state level (and proposing them at the federal level). First, it was very easy for the court to construe and implement Ohio’s proportionality requirement. Proportionality obviously means a statewide seat share for each party that is roughly equivalent to its statewide vote share. In Ohio, over the last decade, Republican candidates have received an average of 54% of the vote and Democratic candidates have received an average of 46% of the vote. The enacted plans were therefore clearly unlawful since they allotted about two-thirds of the seats to Republicans. Second, Ohio’s proportionality requirement gives rise to an intuitive remedy: new maps that do provide approximately proportional representation to each party. And sure enough, that’s what the court ordered Ohio’s commission to do: within ten days, to draft new maps that attempt to achieve proportionality. In an area where remedial processes often last as long as the original merits litigation, it’s refreshing to see such a rapid timetable with such a high prospect of making Ohio’s legislative maps far fairer.

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