COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday struck down the congressional district map passed by the General Assembly.
In a 4-3 vote, with conservative Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor joining the three liberals on the bench, the court said the map unfairly favored the Republican Party.
Earlier in the week, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a similar ruling against state-level legislative districts that were drawn by Republicans.
The map passed by the state legislature in November would have favored the GOP in at least 12 of the 15 races, giving them 80% of the vote.
However, Republicans have only earned 54% of the vote in the last 10 years.
The General Assembly now has 30 days to redraw a map.
If the legislature does not get it done, it goes to the Ohio Redistricting Commission who will have an additional 30 days.
However time is of the essence as the filing deadline for candidates wanting to run for Congress is March 4.
While U.S. law requires states to redraw U.S. House district boundaries every decade, the boundaries approved by the House and Senate would have only be effective for four years. A 2018 referendum approved by voters states that maps that don’t get bipartisan support can only be enacted for four years.
The referendum states that districts cannot “unduly favor or disfavor any political party or its incumbents.”
The new maps was approved in nearly party-line votes in the Ohio House and Senate before getting Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature. Republicans have defended the maps.
“If it’s all about all gerrymandered districts, tell me why the governor of Ohio, the Secretary of State, the attorney general, the treasurer, the auditor is a Republican,” House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz said in November. “Is the whole state gerrymandered or is Ohio a red state?”
Ohio Senate Republicans spokesperson John Fortney said Friday his caucus was “reviewing the 82 page decision.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are celebrating the decision.
“Once again, the Ohio Supreme Court did what the legislature refused to do – listened to the will of Ohio voters,” said Elizabeth Walter, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. “Any map that further rigs our state in favor of one party over another is unacceptable and we’ll be watching closely to make sure any new maps reflect the fair representation that Ohioans overwhelmingly called for.”