Judges send Ohio Statehouse cards back to the drawing board | New Policies
By JULIE CARR SMYTH, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A divided Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday issued a fourth extraordinary reprimand from the state’s Republican-controlled redistricting panel, declaring the cartographers’ latest maps for Statehouse districts yet another gerrymander partisan.
By a vote of the same 4-to-3 bipartisan majority that ruled against the previous three maps, the court ordered the embattled and defiant Ohio Redistricting Commission back to the drawing board once again. . He set a deadline of May 6 for the completion of the next plan.
The date falls after a Wednesday deadline set by a federal court to iron out differences between the court and the commission. It was not immediately clear how the ruling would impact the course of action for the U.S. District Court. Voting for the May 3 primary has already begun with no legislative races listed.
In Thursday’s ruling, the court said the commission’s latest plan still violated a 2015 constitutional amendment passed overwhelmingly by Ohio voters. This amendment says the panel should try to avoid partisan patronage and should also try to proportionately distribute districts to reflect Ohio’s political makeup, which is split roughly 54% Republican, 46% Democrat.
Republicans argued that the fourth set of cards — like the previous three versions — met those requirements.
The plan was passed in a flurry just hours before the court’s latest deadline. The Republican majority on the commission left the work of two freelance mapmakers hired during this round to seamlessly carry out the painstaking process on the cutting room floor, on the grounds that their work could not be done at weather.
“The efforts of the freelance mapmakers were apparently little more than sideshow – yet more fodder in this political sport,” Judge Michael P. Donnelly wrote in his concurring opinion.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a moderate Republican, again joined the court’s three Democrats to form the majority, with the other three Republicans dissenting.
Judge Sharon Kennedy, a candidate to succeed O’Connor, accused the majority of “yet another face-wiping moment.”
“Now, after months have passed and thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent, we are back to where we were on September 21, 2021 (shortly before the first lawsuit was filed) with no end in sight. “Kennedy wrote in her challenge.
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