Ohio Supreme Court rejects GOP-drawn legislative maps for 4th time

The ongoing saga of Ohio’s legislative redistricting process took another shocking turn on Thursday, when the state’s Supreme Court rejected – for the fourth time – new state House and Senate maps created by Republicans, as the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This latest setback comes after the court last month tossed a third set of maps, determining that they were unlawfully drawn to favor GOP interests, in contravention of new anti-gerrymandering redistricting guidelines approved by Ohio voters back in 2015, as The Hill noted at the time.

According to NBC News, based on the court’s 4-3 decision, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have until May 6 to submit another attempt at a legally viable map, three days after the date upon which the state was slated to hold legislative primary elections.

Though state election officials had warned that district maps needed to be in place by Wednesday for an Aug. 2 primary to be held, the court did not agree, saying that such a deadline was “speculative,” and that the election could be held at a later date without issue.

Primary races for congressional and statewide races will still be held on May 3 as originally planned, as they are not impacted by the continued tug-of-war over state House and Senate district maps, according to NBC News.

The Enquirer noted that the latest set of rejected maps represented a tweaked version of those that were previously rejected by the state’s high court, and while the newest boundary lines lowered the number of hotly contested Democratic seats, they did not add competitive seats in Republican-leaning areas.

According to the majority opinion, “Although the commission appeared to be engaging in a more collaborative process in drafting a legislative map, the final day leading up to the adoption of the third revised plan revealed anything but that.”

“What began as a ‘historic’ process devolved into the same one-sided partisan map-drawing process that led us to invalidate the previous three plans,” the justices in the majority declared.

The dissenting Republican jurists, however, blasted what they viewed as the majority’s disregard for the Ohio constitution, with Justice Sharon Kennedy also stating of the resulting electoral limbo, “We are stuck in a time loop, like the characters in the moving Groundhog Day,” and whether and when the continued map-drawing chaos will be resolved in the Buckeye state, only time will tell.