A federal court has given a ruling that Ohio’s congressional map is an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander” and must be redrawn before the 2020 election.
In their ruling on Friday, a three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio argued that the map was intentionally drawn “to disadvantage Democratic voters and entrench Republican representatives in power.” The court also argued that the map violates voters’ constitutional right to choose their representatives and exceeds the state’s powers under Article I of the Constitution.
“Accordingly, we declare Ohio’s 2012 map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, enjoin its use in the 2020 election, and order the enactment of a constitutionally viable replacement,” the judges wrote in their decision.
The decision is most likely going to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently deliberating challenges to congressional maps from Maryland and North Carolina.
The League of Women Voters, ACLU and other voting rights groups sued Ohio last year, saying Republicans redrew the state’s congressional map in 2011 with intention of maintaining their three-to-one advantage. Since the map was put into effect in 2012, Ohio’s congressional delegation has been stagnated in at 12 Republicans and four Democrats.
The judges agreed with voting rights groups in their argument that Ohio’s districts were “intended to burden Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, had that effect, and the effect is not explained by other legitimate justifications.”
Ohio’s current map was drawn in 2011 by Republican state lawmakers, with input from party consultants in a Columbus hotel room. Democrats argue they were kept out of the process completely.
“These national Republicans generated some of the key strategic ideas for the map, maximizing its likely pro-Republican performance, and had the authority to approve changes to the map before their Ohio counterparts implemented them,” the judge write. “Throughout the process, the Ohio and national map drawers made decisions based on their likely partisan effects.”