Ohio Supreme Court brings contempt back up in redistricting

By: - March 31, 2022 3:55 am

Senate President Matt Huffman, left, and House Speaker Bob Cupp, right, speak before the March 1 meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission. (Photo: Susan Tebben, OCJ)

The Ohio Supreme Court has given members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission until Monday to explain why, once again, they shouldn’t be held in contempt of a court order.

In a filing on Wednesday, the court brought up the idea of contempt as it had after the ORC missed the deadline for adopting legislative maps by a week in the last attempt.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and a group of Ohio voters all asked the court to demand from the commission answers as to how they are not in contempt of court for violating the court’s order to adopt an “entirely new” map before its March 28 deadline.

“The Commission’s adopted map is not entirely new, it was not drafted by the Commission, it was not drafted in public, and it was intentionally withheld from the Commission’s meetings until the eleventh-hour,” the groups wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

On the night of the deadline, the commission ended up passing a revised version of the third map they submitted to the supreme court, which the state’s high court had rejected, saying the process was controlled by the GOP members of the commission.

They passed this third map while independent mapmakers hired by the commission, one chosen by the GOP and one by the Dems, were still working on a new map from scratch.

Dr. Douglas Johnson and Dr. Michael McDonald were down to a consolidated set of maps that they said needed commission input. Johnson said the Senate map was still being finished as of Monday night, but was finished by the end of the night.

However, the map was finished after the commission had voted to approve the revised third plan in a 4-3 vote, with only one GOP “no” vote from Auditor Keith Faber.

Faber voted against the map saying he feared it “won’t meet the court’s test,” but also had his problems with the timeline for the independent mapmakers’ plan.

He even accused the mapmakers, including the GOP-chosen one, of “cracking and packing” voters into district, to the benefit of Democratic candidates. He also said there was very little time on Monday to introduce amendments and make changes to the brand new map.

“It’s going to be real tough to hit some magical ratio,” he said, referring to the court-ordered statewide partisan breakdown of 54% GOP to 45% Dems.

The Ohio Supreme Court is also still considering challenges to the congressional redistricting maps approved by the ORC. The court said Tuesday that parties in the case have 25 days to file evidence, then 10 days after evidence is filed to submit briefs to the court.

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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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