The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the state House and Senate district maps approved in September 2021 violated the Ohio Constitution.
The court further ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with drawing legislative maps, to adopt a new plan within 10 days of the decision that complies with provisions of a 2015 constitutional amendment to limit partisan line-drawing.
In the court’s ruling, Justice Jennifer Brunner added a concurrence endorsing additional arguments Reed Smith and the Brennan Center made on behalf of our clients.
Reed Smith and the Brennan Center brought the lawsuit in September 2021 on behalf of The Ohio Organizing Collaborative, CAIR-Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, and six individuals: Ahmad Aboukar, Crystal Bryant, Samuel Gresham Jr., Prentiss Haney, Mikayla Lee, and Pierrette “Petee” Talley.
The petitioners alleged that Ohio’s new state legislative maps were unfairly drawn to ensure that Republicans win far more seats in both chambers of the Ohio general assembly than Democrats would win with an equivalent share of the statewide vote. Petitioners argued that the maps’ disproportionate districts and unequal treatment of voters violated the 2015 amendments to Ohio’s constitution.
“We welcome the court’s decision to enforce the state’s constitutional protections against partisan gerrymandering. Our plaintiffs – the organizations and individuals who sued to block the illegal maps – would have been denied fair representation under those maps,” said Reed Smith appellate partner Brian Sutherland, who led the firm’s pro bono team on the Ohio matter. “All citizens of Ohio deserve maps that are fair and legal so that their voices can be heard in Columbus on the issues that affect their lives.”
Sutherland was joined by partners Peter M. Ellis, Brad Funari, Benjamin Fliegel, and M. Patrick Yingling, and associates Natalie Salazar and Danielle Stewart and many others in successfully serving with the Brennan Center for Justice as co-counsel on the case.
“Today the Ohio Supreme Court held the Ohio Redistricting Commission accountable to the constitution,” said Alicia Bannon, director of the Judiciary Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The commission is now tasked with drawing replacement maps. We will be watching to ensure that all Ohioans get the fair representation they are due.”
For more information, please see the court's decision and background on Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission at supremecourt.ohio.gov.