by J.D. Davidson
Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission want the state’s Supreme Court to put legal challenges to proposed district maps on hold until after the November general election.
The commission majority wants to use state legislative district maps already ruled unconstitutional to hold an Aug. 2 primary and the general election. It wants the court not to order the commission to draw new maps until after November.
“This court need not revisit its earlier decisions invalidating the third plan and other commission-approved plans,” Republicans said in court filings. “Instead, the commission respectfully requests that this court defer a decision on petitioners’ latest objections, allowing the secretary of state and Ohio’s elections officials to use the third plan for the remaining primary and general elections in 2022.”
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a member of the commission, said last week that April 20 was the deadline for maps to have been implemented to meet federal and state elections unless the General Assembly would adjust state law. LaRose said he would need assurance from legislative leaders that emergency legislation would be enacted to consider new maps.
In court filings, GOP members of the commission said leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly did not have the votes to enact emergency legislation.
The General Assembly has not officially established Aug. 2 as the date for a second primary for state legislative districts, but LaRose has said that is the final date available to meet voting laws for the general elections.
A three-judge federal court panel has also ruled if the commission cannot develop constitutional maps by May 28, it will order the third set of unconstitutional maps to be used and set the primary date for Aug. 2.
In response, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed a motion with the court Tuesday asking the court to order the Republicans on the commission to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court.
The group wants the court to impose a $10,000 daily fine on the four GOP commission members until constitutional maps are produced, order the commission to meet daily until a constitutional plan is produced, appear weekly in court and develop constitutional maps for the 2022 election.
National Democrats also filed a motion asking GOP members to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt.
The Supreme Court ruled on April 14 that the commission’s fourth set of maps was unconstitutional, giving the group until May 6 to develop a fifth set. The commission did not meet until May 4, saying it would be confusing to voters to meet before the May 3 primary, and Gov. Mike DeWine spent several days in quarantine with COVID-19.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Frank LaRose” by Frank LaRose. Background Photo “Ohio Supreme Court” by Sixflashphoto CC BY-SA 4.0.