COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A three-judge federal panel ruled that Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional districts are unconstitutional, but that doesn’t mean the boundaries will change before the 2020 election.
State lawmakers were given a mid-June deadline to redraw the congressional district map that the federal court says unfairly favors Republicans. However, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is asking the United States Supreme Court to block that order until the high court rules on two gerrymandering cases that are already before the court.
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) called the Republican pushback to the ruling disrespectful to voters who approved a plan to end gerrymandering.
“I find it very disrespectful that the leaders of the state will go against the wishes of voters who have told us twice that they believe the way we draw our maps is unconstitutional and unfair.”
Republicans, however, pointed out that a new map will be drawn anyway after the 2020 Census, but Democrats say that’s not soon enough
“Why should we wait for a fair government?” Sykes asked. “If we have a situation where politicians are picking the voters instead of voters picking the politicians, we have a really messed up system. It’s not just Akron, not just Columbus, It’s Dayton it’s everywhere.”
Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D-Columbus) lost a tight congressional race to now-Rep. Troy Balderson last year, and he lays part of the blame for his defeat on how gerrymandered District 12 is.
“It’s good for Ohio that the district court ruled the way it did. A unanimous decision by three judges, dem and rep, is a strong decision,” O’Connor said. “I’m hopeful — because Ohioans need real representation in a dysfunctional Washington, D.C. — that the Supreme Court will uphold this decision.”
O’Connor said gerrymandering is one of the biggest problems facing Ohio and that it decreases accountability and promotes political extremism. He said that Ohioans shouldn’t have to wait for a fairer congressional map.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said. “We need real representation by 2020.”