WASHINGTON (WCMH) — Ohio’s high court must reexamine the state’s congressional map it previously declared unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a summary judgment — a ruling without hearing oral arguments — vacating the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling last July that the congressional map drawn by the Republican-led redistricting commission unduly favored the Republican Party. In doing so, it commands the state court — under a new, Republican Chief Justice — to reconsider the constitutionality of the political map.
“I’m pleased the U.S. Supreme Court granted our appeal which clearly recognized serious constitutional concerns with the narrow majority opinions rendered under the former Chief Justice,” Senate President Matt Huffman said in a statement. “We are reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court’s message to determine the path forward.”
Huffman was one of four lawmakers who challenged the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling last October as “fundamentally flawed.” In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawmakers argued that the federal constitution granted sole authority to state legislatures to facilitate elections without check or balance from the courts — a theory the high court rejected on Tuesday — and that the court’s ruling effectively prescribed election rules.
With the court’s Friday order, the Ohio Supreme Court will reconsider the constitutionality of the map, factoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s Tuesday ruling in Moore v. Harper.
Ohio’s constitution, unlike the federal or other states’ constitutions, prohibits partisan gerrymandering. The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Ohio were among the parties that challenged the congressional district map, which was the fifth map the Ohio Supreme Court declared unconstitutional. In its ruling, the court found the map diluted Democratic voting power by by packing democratic voters into three heavily Democratic metropolitan areas.
“If the Ohio Supreme Court does faithfully apply Moore, as instructed by SCOTUS, there is no question: it should reaffirm its previous decision,” Freda Levenson, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement. “What SCOTUS said in Moore was that legislatures must follow their state constitutions — consistent with what the Ohio Supreme Court already decided.”