Only one appeal filed in federal redistricting case

By: - June 9, 2022 4:00 am

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A single appeal was filed in the federal redistricting case that deemed an unconstitutional map as the official map for the general election in November.

But that appeal is to an issue that was folded into the original lawsuit, accusing the Ohio Redistricting Commission of discriminating against voters of color when they decided not to use racial demographic data when drawing legislative redistricting maps. The case is being litigated on behalf of two Youngstown residents.

No other appeals have been filed against the decision, which determined that if the commission had not acted by May 28, the federal court would intervene to place the third map adopted by the ORC into play for the next primary and general election.

That map has twice been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court as unconstitutional and giving an advantage to Republicans that does not match the voting patterns of Ohioans.

Attorney Percy Squire filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Ohio Eastern District, asking that the U.S. Supreme Court consider the case under violations of the Voting Rights Act.

“The VRA prohibits the use of any redistricting method that results in the political processes leading to nomination or election by representatives of choice not being equally open,” the appeal states. “The method chosen here by (the Ohio Redistricting Commission) does just that.”

The U.S. District Court three-judge panel turned down Squire’s request to hold off on allowing a map for the Aug. 2 primary and general election, because the maps were created in a discriminatory way, the attorney wrote.

The court said not only has Youngstown seen “sweeping demographic changes” in the last 30 years, but also that the residents suing would have to show persisting “racially polarized voting patterns” to prove race was a necessary component for proper redistricting.

“Indeed Simon points to no precedent indicating that a refusal to consider race amounts to primary evidence of an intent to discriminate,” Judge Amul Thapar wrote in the court’s decision, made unanimously by Thapar, Chief Judge Algenon Marbley and Judge Benjamin Beaton.

In state courts, the Ohio Supreme Court still hasn’t responded to a lack of action from the ORC with regard to the June 3 deadline the court ordered to receive new legislative maps. The commission didn’t hold any public meetings, and did not consider any maps publicly after the court rejected their fifth attempt at legislative plans since September.

They made no moves to hold the commission in contempt for violating a court order (something a co-chair of the ORC says it has no right to do), and groups against the most recent maps have asked again for the court to review contempt charges.

Lawsuits are still active with the state supreme court over congressional redistricting as well. Many of the same parties, including the League of Women Voters of Ohio, have sued to get the congressional maps passed in March, thrown out as unconstitutional.

Those lawsuits are looking past 2022, seeking judgments to impact the 2024 election after the suing parties decided the timeline to change the congressional maps for this year’s elections was too condensed to push for a sooner change.



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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 (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.