In a somewhat surprising end to an ongoing legal battle over a recently created congressional district map in Ohio, the state Supreme Court granted a request from the left-leaning groups challenging the redrawn boundaries to dismiss the matter altogether, as the Washington Examiner reports.
As a result of the move, the re-engineered – and previously controversial – map that was produced in the wake of the 2020 census is now poised for use in the 2024 election, despite the fact that it had been struck down as unconstitutional by the high court under a different chief justice.
The matter had come before the court anew earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the prior decision on the map's constitutionality for further review by a court that, by then, had a notably different makeup.
On Sept. 5, the petitioners in the cases – who brought the legal challenges to the map in the first place over gerrymandering concerns – asked for dismissal due to their fears that the high court would pave the way for a new map that would wind up giving an even greater edge to Republicans.
The challengers also suggested that a protracted legal battle would mean that “Ohioans would remain in limbo, for months at least, as to what map will be used in 2024.”
According to reporting from the Ohio Capital Journal, opponents of the new map still believe that it is unlawfully constructed and have in no way abandoned that stance.
However, they also now claim that it is strategically wiser to drop the current challenge and wait, given that the state Constitution requires a redrawing of the districts to take place after November of next year anyhow.
The map is it currently stands, contains 10 districts with Republican representation and five that are represented by Democrats.
Those contending that improper gerrymandering occurred in the map's creation have pointed to the fact that former President Donald Trump took Ohio in 2020 with less than 54% support, though Republicans maintain control of 66% of the congressional seats in the state.
Reacting to the Supreme Court's dismissal of the challenges to the redistricting map was Ohio Secretary of State Frank La Rose.
“The court took this action at the request of the plaintiffs, who asked to dismiss these cases,” LaRose began.
LaRose continued, “It's oddly convenient that these groups now suddenly consider the map to be constitutional. The reality here is that allies of one political party tried to game the system by getting an outcome they wanted from the previous hyper-partisan court majority.”
“Now that the integrity of the Ohio Supreme Court has been restored, the plaintiffs are effectively admitting their lawsuits are without merit and unlikely to succeed. They've wasted taxpayer dollars, confused Ohio voters and abused Ohio's election officials by forcing a bifurcated primary election last year...[t]he hypocrisy of these folks knows no end,” LaRose added.
Whether the arguments lodged by those who challenged the 2022 map will gain any sort of foothold when boundaries are again redrawn pursuant to the state constitution's mandates, however, only time will tell.