Ohio redistricting battle heads to state Supreme Court

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The Journal Gazette on 12/8/2021 by Julie Carr Smyth

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The shape of Ohio’s state government for the next decade will be in the balance Wednesday as the Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments on new legislative maps that voter-rights and Democratic groups say are gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

Lawyers for the state will be defending the district boundaries, which are likely to retain Republicans’ Statehouse supermajorities, as constitutional. Justices can either affirm the maps or send them back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission to be redrawn.

The dispute comes amid the process of redrawing legislative and congressional district maps that states must undertake once per decade to reflect changes from the U.S. Census. Wednesday’s arguments relate only to legislative maps, not the one for U.S. House districts.

Advocacy and Democratic groups — the plaintiffs — argue the new boundaries undermine voters’ rights. They’re hoping the court opts to explain why the map is unconstitutional, so the GOP-dominated redistricting commission has clear guidance for creating “something that is fair for everyone,” said Patrick Yingling, an attorney for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.