A panel of three judges from the United States District Court in Cincinnati, OH ruled this past week that the state of Ohio will have to redraw its congressional district’s map because too much partisanship went into drawing the borders of the districts. Gerrymandering is the process by which the state legislature manipulates the borders of congressional districts in order to make the district a more favorable place for a particular party to win an election.
Ohio has a state government that has been dominated by the Republican Party for a number of years. When the districts had to be redrawn as must be done after every census, the legislature drew the districts so that Republicans could win the most districts by far. This process angered the Democrats in the state as well as other voting rights groups. In order to challenge the new districts, the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union brought suit against the state of Ohio.
This week, the judges stated in their opinion that Ohio must redraw the congressional districts before the 2020 Presidential elections. The judges gave the state until June 14 of this year to develop a plan to correct the situation. The state of Ohio was informed that if it could not come up with an equitable plan, the court would be forced to redraw the district maps.
There was a similar ruling about gerrymandered districts in the state of Michigan earlier this year. Also the United States Supreme Court is considering a case regarding the federal courts ability to rule on gerrymandering.
Many legal observers believe that the Supreme Court with its 5-4 conservative tilt will rule that federal courts cannot rule on gerrymandering cases. If this happens, all cases will have to be reheard in state courts, and solutions would have to be worked out on a state by state basis.