Voting rights advocates celebrated Friday after a panel of three federal judges struck down Ohio's congressional map, ruling that district lines were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit the Republican Party.
"For far too long partisan gerrymandering has plagued our politics, divided our communities, and weakened the power of the people's voice and vote in government."
—Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
In a unanimous ruling (pdf), the judges said they were "convinced by the evidence" that the Republican-drawn congressional map amounted to an "intentional and effective" partisan gerrymander.
"The bottom line is that the dominant party in state government manipulated district lines in an attempt to control electoral outcomes and thus direct the political ideology of the state's congressional delegation," the judges wrote.
"Today's decision is a victory for Ohio voters," Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said in a statement. "For far too long partisan gerrymandering has plagued our politics, divided our communities, and weakened the power of the people's voice and vote in government."
The court ruled that Ohio Republicans cannot use the gerrymandered map in future elections and gave lawmakers until June to draw up a replacement that does not violate the Constitution.
This decision follows the trial in which the map was rightly dubbed a ‘geographic monstrosity.’
Voters must choose their elected officials. Not the other way around.https://t.co/ZwveYF7HTU
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 3, 2019
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As Politico reported, "Republicans have dominated Ohio's congressional delegation since the map was enacted in 2011, winning 12 of the state's 16 congressional seats in all four elections held under the map."
Ari Berman, a reporter for Mother Jones, noted that Republicans maintained their overwhelming advantage despite winning just 52 percent of the vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
Big news for voting rights: 3-judge federal court unanimously strikes down Ohio GOP-drawn Congressional map as unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Republicans have 12-4 advantage even though they only got 52% of vote in 2018 https://t.co/I6GHZ3MDms
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) May 3, 2019
The ACLU of Ohio, which challenged the Republican map in court, celebrated the judges' ruling as a major victory for voting rights.
"The court issued a meticulously detailed opinion, concluding that Ohio's map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, and ordered the state to enact a new remedial plan by June 14," Freda Levenson, legal director for ACLU Ohio, said in a statement. "This opinion, declaring Ohio an egregiously gerrymandered state, completely validates every one of our claims and theories in every respect."