Supreme Court directs Ohio’s top court to take another look at redistricting lawsuit

Jun 30, 2023, 11:41 AM

The Ohio Supreme Court will take yet another look at the legality of the state’s congressional districts after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday set aside a ruling striking down the districts and ordered further consideration of the case.

The nation’s high court directed Ohio’s top court to reassess the case in light of its ruling Tuesday in a North Carolina redistricting case. Justices in that instance rejected an expansive version of the so-called independent state legislature theory, which holds that legislatures have absolute power in setting the rules of federal elections and cannot be overruled by state courts.

But the high court said state courts still must act within “ordinary bounds” when reviewing laws governing federal elections.

The Supreme Court’s brief order Friday was the fourth this month addressing redistricting conducted by states based on the 2020 census. Its other decisions dealt with Republican-drawn U.S. House districts Louisiana, which lower courts said likely violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting strength of Black residents.

In both Ohio and North Carolina, Republican state lawmakers contended in appeals that their state’s highest court had gone too far when striking down U.S. House districts enacted by GOP state officials.

Unlike in North Carolina, Ohio’s constitution contains a specific anti-gerrymandering amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. That provision gives Ohio’s high court the authority to determine if a map “unduly favors or disfavors a political party” but not to draw a replacement.

The Ohio Supreme Court twice struck down congressional maps drawn by Republican officials after the 2020 census, although the second map nonetheless was used in the 2022 elections. That map resulted in 10 Republicans and five Democrats winning election.

In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican lawmakers in Ohio had claimed that state justices overstepped their authority by setting their own definitions for what fair maps should look like, including an acceptable partisan make up.

Like in North Carolina, Ohio’s Supreme Court underwent a realignment while an appeal was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Former state Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who cast key swing votes that tossed the congressional districts, retired in December due to age limits. She was succeeded by another Republican, former Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters — a change that has raised the prospects of a different outcome when the court next considers redistricting.

North Carolina’s constitution contains no explicit prohibition on partisan gerrymandering. But judges there had cited constitutional sections guaranteeing “free” elections, “equal protection of the laws” and the right to free speech and assembly when ruling against overly partisan districts.

Last year, a Democratic majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down congressional districts drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly and instead allowed a map drawn by judges to be used for the 2022 elections. That map resulted in Democrats and Republicans equally splitting the state’s 14 congressional districts.

Republican lawmakers had already planned to redraw those districts before the 2024 elections. Then, while the case was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, voters elected a Republican majority to the state Supreme Court. Those judges in April overruled the previous decision and declared there was no constitutional prohibition on partisan gerrymandering.


Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

US makes offer to bring home jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Russia rejected it

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has made a new and significant offer aimed at securing the release of American detainees Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, but Russia has rejected the offer, the State Department said Tuesday. Spokesman Matthew Miller did not reveal the details of the offer nor why Russia had turned it down, […]

11 minutes ago

Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for his domestic assault trial, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Ne...

Associated Press

Jonathan Majors’ accuser said actor’s “violent temper” left her fearful before alleged assault

NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan Majors’ former girlfriend told a Manhattan jury that the actor was prone to fits of rage that escalated in the months leading up to his arrest for allegedly attacking her in the backseat of a car last spring. During hours of tearful testimony on Tuesday, Grace Jabbari described Majors as […]

30 minutes ago

Associated Press

Atmospheric river brings heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An atmospheric river has brought heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, closing roadways and schools as it shattered daily rainfall and temperature records in Washington state. The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued flood warnings in parts of western Washington, including in areas north and east […]

54 minutes ago

This undated family photo shows David Schultz with his two sons. Schultz’s semi-truck was found t...

Associated Press

Midwest mystery: Iowa man still missing, 2 weeks after semi holding baby pigs was found on highway

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — David Schultz’s semi-truck was found two weeks ago on a rural highway in northwest Iowa, its trailer still filled with baby pigs he was transporting. Schultz’s wallet and phone were inside, and his jacket was on the side of the road. But Schultz was nowhere to be found, and his […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 202...

Associated Press

Sen. Tommy Tuberville says he’s ending blockade of most military nominees

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said Tuesday he’s ending his blockade of most military nominees, clearing the way for hundreds to be approved. Follow @ktar923

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Former DEA informant pleads guilty in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president

MIAMI (AP) — A former confidential informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, whose killing in 2021 caused unprecedented turmoil in the Caribbean nation. Joseph Vincent, a dual Haitian-American citizen who lived in the U.S. and attended meetings in South Florida and Haiti ahead […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Supreme Court directs Ohio’s top court to take another look at redistricting lawsuit