The right of a state legislature to draw electoral maps is one of the spoils of victory. Unfortunately, the courts have the power to override their decision.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a map drawn by Republican lawmakers over fears it unfairly benefited their party, the Washington Examiner reported. Time is running out for the state legislature to button up this issue before the May primaries.
The court’s 4-3 decision means the Ohio Redistricting Commission is required to come up with new maps for the state Congress by May 6. This is the second time maps were drawn and rejected by the court over perceived unfairness.
“The independent map drawers’ efforts were apparently little more than a sideshow — yet more fodder in this political sport,” Justice Michael Donnelly charged in his latest concurring opinion. “The Ohio Redistricting Commission is independent in theory only,” the judge complained.
“Indeed, the commission’s plans in these cases have consistently been drafted by the majority party’s political staffers to the exclusion of the minority party,” Donnelly said. Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor defected to the majority opinion though none of the other GOP judges ruled with her.
The maps were controversial before they were adopted because some felt they weren’t balanced in accordance with Ohio’s rules. Moreover, Secretary of State Frank LaRose has had to remove candidates from the May 3 primary due to having no approved maps.
It’s possible that Ohio could push state legislature races to August, a move that comes with a $20 million price tag to taxpayers. They have until April 20 to present an acceptable map or else require a new date for the primary race.
While it’s important to draw the maps according to state standards, it always seems that Republicans are on the losing end of these fights whether or not they win elections. These issues will only become more contentious as races in places like Ohio get even closer.