The Ohio Supreme Court is giving members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission until Monday morning to respond to claims that they should be held in contempt because of the manner in which Republican commission members passed a fourth attempt at a legislative map earlier this week.
The court’s order comes at the request of the plaintiffs in three lawsuits challenging the GOP-passed redistricting plans for the Ohio House and Senate, which opponents say is almost exactly like the commission’s third plan that the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutionally gerrymandered by Republicans.
In February, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, ordered the five Republicans and two Democrats on the redistricting commission to appear before the court to explain why they blew past a court-imposed deadline to pass a third redistricting plan.
O’Connor ultimately postponed that hearing indefinitely after Republicans on the redistricting commission passed a third legislative redistricting proposal. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits — which include coalitions led by the Ohio League of Women Voters, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – sought to again schedule that contempt hearing after the Republican-drawn fourth map passed the redistricting commission 4-3 late Tuesday night.
John Fortney, a spokesman for the Ohio Senate Republicans, tweeted Wednesday that “contempt is clearly what the (plaintiffs) have for Ohio voters, its election process and for the constitution. State after state, they pose as voting advocates but instead press the courts to give them what the voters won’t.”
All three plaintiffs point out that the fourth map is almost identical to the third map, except for that Republicans made three Democratic-leaning districts even more favorable to Democrats.