Partisan judges, many elected to their positions during the 2018 blue wave, have been a thorn in the side of Republican redistricting attempts over the last year. While extensive Democrat gerrymanders in places like New York and Illinois have been allowed to stand, GOP maps in states like North Carolina and Ohio have been overturned. It certainly feels as if the two major parties are playing under two different sets of rules.
On Thursday, Democrats were once again celebrating another victory after the state’s Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn map.
A bipartisan majority of Ohio Supreme Court justices has rejected, for the third time in barely two months, new maps of state legislative districts that heavily favor the Republican Party — ratcheting up an extraordinary legal standoff. https://t.co/izZFrq4LPG
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 17, 2022
That wasn’t the end of the story, though. On Friday, news broke that the Ohio Supreme Court had entered a final judgment on the overturned map. What that means is that the redistricting committee is not required to come back to the court for approval on the next map submitted. In short, any challenge of the latest map will need to be filed via a completely new lawsuit.
It didn’t take long before the crying started. Click on and read the replies to the tweet below if you want some more entertainment.
Wow: on a seeming technicality, the OH Supreme Court leaves open the possibility for the latest GOP congressional gerrymander to be used for this November’s election. A surprise and a setback for Democrats. https://t.co/Xb0NfnsY5K
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) March 18, 2022
Dave Wasserman tags himself as an apolitical election observer, but one can’t help but notice how differently he reacts depending on what party is getting the short end of the stick. What’s so upsetting about a solidly red state (and Ohio is that at this point) actually getting to have a congressional map that rivals those drawn in solidly blue states?
Moving back to the details, the problem with having to file a new lawsuit is the timeline. The primary is scheduled for May 3rd in Ohio. The new districts must be set by then for obvious reasons. Another lawsuit would be starting from scratch, with new filings and normal delays. Further, the date of the election is not the only deadline. Ballots must be printed in the weeks prior and polling places must be setup. Volunteers must also be organized to run them, as is typical with any election.
What that means in practice is that the GOP can put out a new map and it will likely stand because another lawsuit won’t have time to stop it before the primary. Had the Ohio Supreme Court not entered a final judgment, perhaps any future map would have still been under the jurisdiction of the prior suit. That’s not how it went down, though, and Democrats are furious about it.
This is a break Republicans desperately need after a rash of partisan rulings from Democrat judges in red states. Hopefully, it holds and it leads to a few more pickups come November.
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