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Another Unconstitutional Map

It’s the most blatant attack on democracy and the rule of law I’ve ever witnessed in Ohio. And, as you know, that’s saying a lot.

And on May 27, a federal appeals court rewarded the lawlessness. 

But before I get to the most recent update, there have been a lot of moving parts in this redistricting saga. So let’s recap where we’ve been so far:

The Ohio Supreme Court has now told Ohio Republican officials five separate times that the maps they have passed out of the Republican-dominated Redistricting Committee are unconstitutional gerrymanders. 

A few weeks ago, after the fourth time they struck out with the Ohio Supreme Court, Republican Party operatives begged a federal court to intervene.

That federal court told the Ohio Redistricting Commission that if it didn’t get its act together and pass constitutional maps, the court would order Ohio to use the third set of maps. But there was a problem: that third set of maps had already been deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The federal court was overstepping its bounds by interpreting Ohio state law differently than how Ohio’s highest court had just weeks before. (They’re not supposed to do that.)

We were also concerned (rightly, as it turns out) that Republicans would just run out the clock and prove that they have no intention of adhering to the law or respecting the voters’ demand for fairness. Why would they pass new maps when––if they did nothing––they’d be rewarded with the very maps they preferred?

Our fears were realized when the Republican-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission simply re-passed the third set of maps – the very ones the federal court said it would apply if Republicans didn’t pass constitutional maps, and which had already been found to be unconstitutional gerrymanders by the Ohio Supreme Court.

So it was no surprise when, earlier this week, the Ohio Supreme Court found those maps to be unconstitutional gerrymanders.

But on Friday night, that federal court jumped in again, and ordered Ohio to use the third set of maps, even though the Ohio Supreme Court – which has the final say on the law of the State of Ohio – has found these maps to be unconstitutional (twice!).

The appeals court said it was choosing the “best of bad options.” They neglected to mention that the Republicans created every single bad, unconstitutional, lawless option.

They have rewarded Republicans handsomely for ignoring the rule of law.

It’s stunning, and we can’t stand for it.

What happens now? Good question. 

The order can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I hope it will be. We would at least see whether the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been sincere about its commitment to federalism (i.e., respecting state courts), as well as its intention to keep federal courts out of partisan gerrymander cases. If so, it should be an easy reversal. If not, then it only confirms our worst fears about this Court.

But as that process plays out, we the people of Ohio need to be thinking about what we can do right now, and in the future, to fight back. And to hold these lawbreaking Republican officials accountable – just like any other Ohioans would be held accountable for breaking the law five times.

I’m thinking a lot about that these days, and I’ll bet you are too. 

One thing I do know: running and funding candidates in every district so we can hold these lawbreakers accountable is perhaps the most important thing we can do.

Know that law-abiding and democracy-loving Ohioans in every corner of this state see these actions for what they are: a desperate, cowardly play to hold onto power. Illegally.

P.S. It’s clear from the Republican Party’s lawlessness that they need to be held accountable, and that’s going to require a group effort. That’s why we’ve launched Blue Ohio – a community of people who will hold Republicans to account by supporting Democratic nominees for state legislature. 100% of the funds donated to the nominees go to the nominees; Blue Ohio grows and sustains itself based on tips. And if you join at $10/month or more, you’re automatically invited to our virtual “brown bag” lunches where we get together and talk about what’s going on in the statehouse and what we can do to help.

Join us in supporting our Democratic state legislative nominees, and creating the community that will finally hold these Republicans accountable. If you’ve not yet become a member, join us today. 

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