Ohio Supreme Court Rejects Legislative Maps Again; Chief Justice O’Connor, a Retiring Republican, Calls Out Redistricting Commission Members and Republican Judges on 6th Circuit Panel


The commission’s refusal—on four occasions—to abide by this court’s rulings has created a crisis that it has the ability to resolve. Yet, despite the federal court majority’s feigned interest in “buy[ing] Ohio more time to both make a new map and find ways to shorten the implementation of that map,” id. at *25, it effectively instructed the Republican members of the commission that all they had to do to get their way was to wait out the clock until May 28—despite the valid order of this court ordering the commission to adopt an entirely new General
Assembly–district plan that complies with the Ohio Constitution by May 6, League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Comm., _ Ohio St.3d , 2022- Ohio-1235, N.E.3d _, ¶ 78-79 (“League IV”).

In light of this court’s limited role in the redistricting process, setting aside differences and working together is the responsibility of the commission members in upholding their oaths of office as elected officials—oaths that are taken not to ensure that one political party has a supermajority but to obey Ohio’s Constitution.

Setting aside differences and working together is surely also what Ohio’s voters envisioned that the commission members would do in exercising their responsibilities as part of the commission….

The latest actions by the commission make clear that without the federal court’s April 20 opinion, there might have been a chance at getting Ohioans a fair map. The federal-court majority brushed off Chief Judge Marbley’s supposition that the Republican members of the commission would “wait out the clock rather than work with the legislature and the Ohio Supreme Court to figure out a new map and, if necessary, a revised election timeline.” Gonidakis, 2022 WL 1175617, at *25, fn. 19. But as Chief Judge Marbley predicted, they did just that….

The Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Constitution should not be held hostage by a redistricting commission acting according to partisan directives and a legislature that has created a crisis due to its own inaction. Any threat to Ohioans’ right to vote in this scenario stems entirely from the commission’s repeated failures to comply with this court’s rulings and the General Assembly’s refusal to set a workable primary date. The remedy, then, should not be the approval of an unconstitutional map that rewards those who created the crisis to begin with. The remedy, instead, must be to craft a resolution of the manufactured crisis by those with the authority to do so—the commission and the legislature.

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