Judge puts federal redistricting discrimination suit on hold

By: - January 13, 2022 3:40 am

Photo by Getty Images.

A U.S. district court judge put a federal redistricting lawsuit on hold Wednesday, treating a pause for a pair of Mahoning County residents’ discrimination lawsuit as “the most efficient use of judicial resources.”

Judge John R. Adams, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, said the lawsuit relies on multiple other court challenges currently being considered by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The case asked for an immediate redraw of the Ohio congressional district map and the state Senate map due to lack of consideration for the Voting Rights Act and racial makeups in the state. Because racial demographics weren’t considered, the Rev. Kenneth Simon and Helen Youngblood say Black and other minority voting power could be diluted.

Adams said federal courts typically don’t rule on “cases or controversies” which are in the state courts and could be decided in a different way by those courts.

In a 4-3 decision Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered redrawing of Statehouse maps approved along partisan lines 5-2 by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, ruling the maps do not meet the voter-approved standards against partisan gerrymandering in the Ohio Constitution. This includes a redraw of the state Senate map.

Though the judge said the Youngblood and Simon “raise a distinct challenge to the redistricting map that is not present in the state court challenges,” the fact that the other court challenges before the supreme court were filed two months earlier means success in those cases, and thus invalidation of any of the maps, could render this case unnecessary.

“Accordingly, the court finds that a brief stay of the matter is warranted to ensure the efficient use of judicial resources,” Adams wrote in his order.

The case will be paused for 60 days, after which status reports will be due from the parties in the lawsuit “that details the current status of the state court proceedings.”

After 60 days, the could could lift the stay or keep it in place if the supreme court still hasn’t made a decision.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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