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Ohio's new congressional district map faces another court challenge

 Ohio Redistricting Commission meets for last public hearing before deadline on maps.
Dan Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio Redistricting Commission meets for last public hearing before deadline on maps.

The National Redistricting Action Fund accuses Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission of refusing to follow the directions of the Ohio Supreme Court in creating the latest 15-district congressional district map.

That map creates 10 Republican districts, three Democratic districts, and two competitive districts that lean Democratic.

In their objections filed in supreme court, the NRAF says the commission failed to comply with the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution.

"The commission did not recalibrate. In fact, it did not even pretend to follow the court’s directions. Instead, it drove off in the opposite direction entirely," writes Donald McTigue, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The National Redistricting Action Fund is an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. It’s aligned with Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President Obama.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission adopted the new congressional district map on March 2. The responsibility of drawing new districts came back to the commission after the court invalidated a previous plan approved by state lawmakers.

In 2018, voters overwhelming approved changes to the constitution to avoid gerrymandered districts, when maps are drawn to unduly favor one party over another.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) says the court ruled the previous congressional plan invalid based on certain sections of the constitution. But Huffman says those certain sections, including the requirement to not draw maps that unduly favor one party over another, do not apply to the Ohio Redistricting Commission at this point in the mapmaking process.

The lawsuit criticizes Huffman's assessment of the mapmaking process calling his stance a "fundamental misdirection."

The League of Women Voters of Ohio, which also challenged the first congressional map in court, is still reviewing the new map and considering their next steps.

Members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission have until March 8, 4 p.m. to respond to the lawsuit.

Ohio's top elected officials say it's still possible for the state to hold a primary on May 3, even with the pending status of the new district maps. However, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) says it would not be possible to hold a May 3 primary for state legislative or congressional races if the court were to take action on either of those district maps.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.