The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Covington & Burling LLP filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the newly draw legislative districts enacted last week in Ohio.
In recent years, Ohio has faced several changes and challenges to its process for drawing legislative districts. In 2018, Ohio primary voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that changed the process for drawing state congressional districts. In 2019, the US Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit challenging Ohio’s electoral map, which alleged that Ohio’s congressional districts were drawn by Republicans to limit the number of competitive districts and disadvantage non-republican candidates.
In February, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the filing of a federal lawsuit before the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the the US Census Bureau over delay in the release of population data relevant to Ohio’s upcoming congressional redistricting process.
Most recently, the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved newly drawn legislative district maps last week in a 5-2 vote. The membership of the commission consists primarily of Republicans. Senator Vernon Sykes and Commissioner Emilia Strong Sykes, in a minority report, stated that the plan “egregiously violates the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Ohio Constitution.”
On Thursday, the ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. In its 309-page complaint, the ACLU claims that the enacted map draws 67 percent of the House districts and 69 percent of the Senate districts to favor Republicans, even though Republicans have received between about 46 percent and 60 percent of the statewide vote.
On the redistricting and lawsuit, President of the League of Women Voters of Ohio Jen Miller said:
The recently adopted Ohio Senate and Ohio House legislative maps disrespect voters and the Ohio Constitution. … After decades of working to end partisan gerrymandering in the Buckeye State, the League of Women Voters of Ohio asks the Ohio Supreme Court to defend the rights of everyday Ohioans to have legislative districts that serve and represent them rather be rigged to favor the short-sighted and selfish interests of political parties and candidates.
Other states are also currently facing redistricting issues. On September 16, a three-judge panel of the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin denied Republicans’ request to dismiss a redistricting lawsuit brought by Democrats arguing that Wisconsin’s map is malapportioned because the population of districts are illegally lopsided.