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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio Republicans ask to use new legislative maps though 2022, even if they're ruled unconstitutional

[Annie Wu / Ideastream Public Media]
“It’s time for fair districts” sign in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission have made an unusual request to the Ohio Supreme Court, which will be deciding if the new state House and Senate maps they drew are constitutional.

They’ve asked the court to use those maps this fall, which would likely give Republicans 57% of the seats in the Statehouse for the next two years.

Groups that sued over the first set of maps – and won when the court said they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered – have challenged these new ones.

The Commission's lawyers have asked the court to uphold the maps Republicans on the panel approved on January 22. And if the justices can’t decide by February 11, they asked for the newly drawn maps to be put into place for the November election.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission's attorneys make the argument to put the new maps in place on page 32 of their 36-page response to the challenge to those maps. [Screenshot /  Ohio Supreme Court]

Mia Lewis with Common Cause Ohio worked as part of a coalition advocating for fair maps.

"They took everything down to the deadline and do it purposely against the ruling of the court and then say, well, just give us what we want anyway, because that's the simplest solution here now that we've run out the clock and giving you these nonsense maps," Lewis said. “There's absolutely no reason why this kind of behavior should be rewarded. Ohio voters who will pay for that, and that is not appropriate.”

Lewis notes the Commission produced and approved the second round of maps in less than a week, and that there have been maps created that are constitutional. Republicans dispute that, saying no maps have been submitted that meet all constitutional criteria except the maps they approved.

The two Democrats on the Commission say the lawyers who filed the response don't speak for them, since they voted against the maps. But they no longer have outside counsel, and represented themselves in the response they filed separately from the Commission's response.

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