ACLU challenges Ohio congressional districts
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in the battleground state of Ohio on Wednesday, arguing that its congressional map amounts to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
“Politicians have shamelessly and repeatedly flouted the will of voters with their partisan manipulation of the election process,” Alora Thomas-Lundborg, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “The Ohio map was specifically drawn to create an unfair advantage to one political party — Republicans — but gerrymandering is wrong no matter what party does it. Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
The lawsuit was filed in Cincinnati’s US District Court with additional plaintiffs that include the League of Women Voters of Ohio and voters from every congressional district in the state.
Earlier in May, Ohioans voted to approve Ballot Issue 1, which will change how the state draws congressional district lines following the next US Census in 2020.
Lawyers for the ACLU want the court to block the use of the maps before the next election.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, responded to the lawsuit with a statement on Wednesday, asking why the plaintiffs waited six years to file a challenge to the congressional maps.
“These groups should respect the will of Ohio’s voters who overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment earlier this month that established a new, bipartisan process for drawing congressional districts starting in 2021,” the statement continued.
Republicans controlled the 2011 redistricting process and drew a map that favored their party across the state. Democrats currently control only four of the state’s 16 congressional districts.
The US Supreme Court is already considering two similar gerrymandering cases — one brought on by Wisconsin Democrats and another by Maryland Republicans. Opinions for those challenges should come by the end of June.