Returning power over basic rights to illegally gerrymandered states like Ohio is a disaster

May 5, 2022 3:20 am

Abortion rights activists protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Jane Norman, States Newsroom.

Gerrymandering destroys legitimate representation, so the U.S. Supreme Court returning power over basic civil rights to illegally gerrymandered states like Ohio is an absolute disaster in waiting.

Many people will suffer horribly in ways big and small.

Do you want your privacy rights, your health care rights, your marriage rights, your discrimination protections, and your equal protection under the law in the hands of extremist lawmakers anointed in partisan primaries, running in illegal and unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts that guarantee their victory?

Because that’s where it looks like we are heading after the leak of an earth-shaking draft opinion from a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Written by Justice Samuel Alito, the opinion not only overturns 50 years of legal abortion access established in Roe v. Wade, but also explicitly threatens same-sex marriage rights as well as protections against laws that make being LGBTQ+ illegal.

The thinking underlying the Alito draft would put in peril everything from interracial marriage to contraception.

The opinion does so under the dubious intellectual framework of cracking civil rights up nationally by returning power to state governments to represent the people.

But the opinion seems to exist in an intellectual vacuum, ignorant of the fact that many state governments have been illegally gerrymandered to enshrine undue political power, and are not representative of their people.

This is the case in Ohio, where a bipartisan majority on the state supreme court has four times rejected the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s illegal, partisan, gerrymandered Statehouse maps.

Ohio Republicans have schemed and maneuvered to run out the clock so their preferred illegal maps may be forced upon voters, which a federal court panel of judges has now agreed to do without any other resolution for redistricting by May 28.

Meanwhile, Ohioans are already forced this election cycle to vote in illegal, unconstitutional U.S. congressional districts.

This reveals Alito’s argument, that returning power to the states means returning power to the people, is a howling farce.

This, especially, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court showing blatant partisan favoritism by issuing self-contradictory rulings on gerrymandering depending on whether it’s Democratic or Republican advantage in play.

As we’ve discussed in this space repeatedly, all gerrymandering is cheating, and all gerrymandering is wrong.

Gerrymandering is a fundamental poison destroying the American Republic.

Gerrymandering pushes politicians to extremes, denies voters their voice, incentivizes corruption, radicalizes political discourse, kills compromise, and disintegrates democracy.

A U.S. Supreme Court that is only consistent about ruling in favor of Republicans in gerrymandering cases, and then abdicates the federal government’s authority in assuring equal protection under the law — in order to return power over the people’s rights to illegally rigged Republican states — is a supreme court playing power politics, not following thoughtful and consistent jurisprudence.

A dictator couldn’t write a better playbook for dismantling democratic institutions and enshrining autocratic, minoritarian rule in America.



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David DeWitt
David DeWitt

OCJ Editor-in-Chief David DeWitt has more than 15 years experience covering Ohio government, politics and policy, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt.