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Government & Politics

Another Lawsuit Filed Over Ohio's New Maps for State House and Senate

Gavel outside Ohio Supreme Court building
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
A gavel sculpture rests outside Ohio Supreme Court building. The court will decide three lawsuits that have been filed to date that are against the legislative maps the Ohio Redistricting Commission has approved.

A total of three lawsuits have been filed so far in the Ohio Supreme Court against the maps approved on a party line vote by the Ohio Redistricting Commission earlier this month.

Republicans have said those maps were drawn to continue the GOP’s supermajorities in the Ohio House and Senate. And Democrats, groups tied to them, and non-partisan organizations are fighting back.

The latest suit comes from the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, five Democratic voters and Sam Gresham, who’s with Common Cause Ohio.

Jeniece Brock with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative says it makes claims similar to the other two lawsuits but was filed on behalf of communities of color, who she says are often left out of the conversation.

“So the individuals and organizations that have joined us have joined together in order to make sure that their voices are heard from our communities’ perspective and the challenges that they face," Brock said.

A suit was filed Friday by the National Redistricting Action Fund, led by Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama. These lawsuits follow a suit filed last week by the League of Women Voters of Ohio with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

All the lawsuits claim the maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered for Republican wins. And all will be decided in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Gov. Mike DeWine have said they were expecting the lawsuits, noting that maps drawn in 2011 were challenged in court and were upheld. Huffman and Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) had inserted into the state budget a provision that would have allowed them to hire outside counsel in the event that the maps for the Ohio House and Senate or for Congress are challenged. DeWine vetoed that provision.

When the maps were upheld in 2011, Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor voted against them, along with fellow Republican Paul Pfeifer and the only Democrat on the court at the time, Yvette McGee-Brown. Now, three of the seven justices are Democrats, and O’Connor is still chief justice.
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