Supreme Court Justices Face Recusal Appeals Over New Legislative Cards

A challenge to the newly approved state legislative district maps prompted Supreme Court justices to withdraw from the case. One is due to a family tie, the other to political statements.

Ohio Supreme Court Judge Pat DeWine refuses to recuse himself from three court cases involving state House and Senate maps approved last month by the Ohio Redistribution Commission on which sits his father, Governor Mike DeWine.

Doron Kalir, a professor at Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, said it would have been appropriate for Judge DeWine to recuse himself from hearing the cases for two reasons. First, because the case went directly to the State High Court and her father, Governor DeWine, is directly involved as a defendant.

Second, Kalir said Judge DeWine should have stepped down from the redistribution cases because Governor DeWine is on the commission that challenged the maps.

“I’m not suggesting and want to be recorded that Judge DeWine would be biased or influenced by any of these,” Kalir said. “But I suggest that the appearance of the confluence of this confluence of these elements coming into a case and then the justice refuses to recuse itself can compromise public opinion on the judiciary.”

Kalir cites precedent which shows that the mere appearance of bias is reason enough to opt out of hearing a case. He also notes that the United States Supreme Court might be slightly more interested in taking over one of the Ohio redistribution cases if asked, as it could be used as a vehicle as it could be used. to reverse this precedent precedent.

Judge DeWine, in a written statement, said he had no reason to recuse himself. He said his father was only one of seven members of this slicing commission and that he had less influence over making these maps than he would have over an agency or department. of state.

All five Republicans on the committee voted for the cards, with both Democrats voting against. The statement defending the cards from Ohio Senate Speaker Matt Huffman said they should favor Republicans in 62 of the 99 House districts and in 23 of the 33 Senate seats, ensuring GOP qualified majorities in the two bedrooms.

Lawsuits against the cards claim they are unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Republican Party has called on Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner, one of the Democrats on the court, to recuse herself over her comments about the redistribution during her campaign last year. But that was not a topic that came up in the only debate the four court candidates participated in last October.

The first of the three cases, that filed by the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, will be argued in the Ohio Supreme Court on December 8.

A second complaint was filed by the National Redistricting Action Fund, headed by Eric Holder, the United States’ attorney general under President Obama. A third was tabled by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, five Democratic voters, and Sam Gresham, who is with Common Cause Ohio.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To learn more, visit the Statehouse News Bureau.


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