COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio court-imposed deadline for redrawing US House district boundaries came and went Thursday without a new map from Congress.
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, an influential Republican and former judge, dismissed any need for lawmakers to stick to a timeline set by the state Supreme Court as based on “myth.”
Cupp said people overlook alternative legal options when they simply count the 30 days judges gave the Republican-controlled Legislature when it rejected the US House’s latest map on 17 July.
“Activists from out of state have peddled the myth that a deadline looms this week for the General Assembly to adopt a new map,” Cupp wrote in an open memo released Wednesday. “It is false, has no basis in fact, and either shows a lack of understanding of our legal system or is an attempt to intentionally confuse the 2022 election.”
Democratic and voting rights groups won lawsuits against five Statehouse cards and two US House cards. Nationally, these maps are due to be redrawn to reflect population changes in the 2020 census. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected state maps as improperly manipulated to favor the ruling Republican Party.
However, amid months of legal and political wrangling, the 2022 legislative and congressional primaries ended up going ahead using those same invalidated cards. The latest congressional map gave two-thirds of Ohio’s 16 seats to Republicans, though the state’s party split over the past 10 years has been about 54% Republican, 46% Democrat.
Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, was among those who believed lawmakers’ next deadline was Thursday.
“This is unfortunately consistent with the well-established pattern of tactical delay by respondents,” she said in an email.
This is the first time the state has implemented its new mapping systems, and what happens when mappers don’t comply with court orders has been debated. So far, the judges have refrained from despising them.
Cupp, who served on the court from 2007 to 2012, said lawmakers have the right to appeal the Ohio Supreme Court’s July ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court because it’s a matter of federal interest, and that they have 90 days to do so. . That makes their next due date October 17, he wrote. If the federal court refuses to appeal, that’s when the 30-day deadline that Ohio voters wrote into the state Constitution starts to turn, he said. .
“That’s the factual reality,” he said.
Whether for convenience or coincidence, Cupp’s timeline brings the 2022 congressional mapping process — which was supposed to end in the fall of 2021 — very close to the end of the year, when the Chief Justice of the ‘Ohio Maureen O’Connor must retire due to age restrictions.
O’Connor, a Republican, joined the three Democrats on the seven-member court in throwing down repeated cards from Statehouse and Congress as gerrymandered. The GOP hopes the November election will result in a friendlier court.
Cupp’s memo did not say whether he believed lawmakers had the option of pursuing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when Congress’ first map was rejected in January.
Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, disagreed with Cupp’s interpretation of an anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment approved in 2018 — which she said gave the Supreme Court Ohio the power to void cards manipulated for partisan purposes.
“Instead of doing the right thing by Ohio voters by creating districts that uphold the Ohio Constitution and Ohio Supreme Court orders, (Senate Speaker Matt) Huffman and Cupp seem determined to serve their own political interests, and then justify their bad behavior by far-fetched means. legal acrobatics,” she said in a text.
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