COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three Youngstown residents, including two pastors, are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse a lower court’s decision and find that two Ohio Statehouse districts were drawn to dilute the Black vote.
Dubbed “the Simon Parties,” the three plaintiffs — the Hon. Reverends Kenneth Simon and Lewis W. Macklin, along with Helen Youngblood — filed an appeal Monday against a May decision from a three-judge federal panel that rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that in drawing two of Ohio’s Statehouse districts, the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to consider race.
The suit comes days after the three-judge district court panel offered an ultimatum to the Republican-majority Ohio Redistricting Commission: approve a new set of maps outlining the state’s legislative districts by June 3 — or proceed with an August primary using a set of maps deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Plaintiffs argue that two of the state legislative districts under the adopted plan — the 33rd Senate District and the 59th House District, which cover Mahoning, Columbiana, and Carroll counties — violate the Voting Rights Act by failing to consider race, thus diluting the power of Black voters.
But on May 12, the three-judge panel rejected the Simon Parties‘ request for a temporary restraining order against the maps, finding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently prove a Voting Rights Act violation.
The federal panel based its decision on a 1985 Supreme Court decision in Thornburg v. Gingles, which established the need for three conditions to be present for a redistricting plan to violate the Voting Rights Act on the basis of race:
- The “minority group” is “sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district”
- The “minority group” is “politically cohesive”
- The “white majority vot[es] sufficiently as a bloc to enable it … usually to defeat the minority’s preferred candidate”
“Simon has not identified any evidence that any of the maps that the Commission proposed, much less Map 3, drew districts in a manner that resulted in vote dilution or a lack of equal opportunity,” the federal court wrote.
The U.S. Supreme Court will now determine whether or not it will hear the redistricting case, titled Gonidakis, et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission.