Today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the state apportionment board’s redrawing of state legislative boundaries is constitutional.
The state apportionment board’s was heavily criticized statewide and nationally as a blatant example of political gerrymandering. In one example of alleged gerrymandering, U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur 9th District stretches from Toledo to the Cleveland area.
In an opinion for the majority, Justice Terrence O’Donnell, rejected the argument that the redistricting plan did not unnecessarily divide political subdivisions into separate legislative districts. Federal law requires that several factors are followed when redistricting occurs every 10 years including; congressional districts must be of equal population and state legislative districts must have no more than a 10% population difference in population.
Justice O’Donnell’s opinion was joined by Justices Judith Ann Lanzinger, Robert Cupp, and Judge John Willamowski.
Justices Yvette McGee Brown and Paul Pfeifer entered separate dissenting opinions, both of which were joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) realeased the following statement upon the decision from the Ohio Supreme Court.
“Today’s Ohio Supreme Court decision is a victory for partisan political gerrymandering and a significant loss for Ohio voters. The court’s narrow majority in its 4-3 decision simply legalized the process of putting political interest ahead of the preservation of communities of interest. The Constitution clearly requires that the apportionment board minimize splits to counties, townships, cities and wards. The map that was adopted slices and dices governmental units 255 times, while alternative maps divided governmental units fewer than 100 times.
“The majority decision ignores the clear mandate of Article XI of the Constitution. Instead, the current legislative maps were drawn with the intent of maximizing political opportunity for one party. As a result, Republicans in the 2012 elections won a large majority in the House, while losing the statewide vote for state House candidates. This does not serve the broad interest of Ohio voters, instead it perpetuates a broken political system which will continue to favor extremism, not responsible governing.
“The court’s decision today points to the urgent need to adopt a new, fair system of redistricting.”