Ohio’s Gerrymandered Congressional Map on Trial
Testimony in wrapped up last week in APRI v. Householder, the case brought by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio against Ohio’s current gerrymandered congressional map. U.S. Rep. Marci Kaptur was one of several compelling witnesses who spoke of the anti-democratic effects of the gerrymandered map. The outcome is now in the hands of a three-judge panel who are due to rule within weeks.
Plaintiffs from all of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House districts and other impacted parties testified to how the awkward, even humorous, current map is fulfilling its contemptible purpose — to ensure that Republicans will consistently win 12 seats, no matter what election-year momentum exists for either party. -- J. Bennett Guess, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Op-ed in the Akron Beacon-Journal/Ohio.com.
If the panel of judges rules in favor of the League and the ACLU, new congressional maps would have to the drawn ahead of elections in 2020. However, the ruling would likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Results there might well depend on what happens in two gerrymandering cases due to begin oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26.
Redistricting Cases at the Supreme Court
Next week oral arguments will begin in two landmark redistricting cases that have the potential to end gerrymandering for good. Rucho v. Common Cause is about gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly which is dominated by the GOP. Lamone v. Benisek is a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. Here’s an article about the cases from New York Times.
Join Our Rucho Road Trip! Redistricting reformers from Ohio and around the country are heading to DC to be on the steps of the Supreme Court for Rucho and Lamone. We’d love you to join us!
We have a minivan leaving Columbus early Monday, 3/25. Other drivers are very welcome to carpool with us. If you are interested in joining us or have questions, reply to this email, call Common Cause Ohio's Mia Lewis at (765) 409-4779.
We have activities planned for Monday and Tuesday, 3/25-26, including lobbying for HR1, and hearing from members of Congress about current efforts to end gerrymandering and strengthen democracy. Learn more when you sign up at this link: Road Trip!
There’s a lot going on nationally and in Ohio with democracy reforms, and redistricting specifically.
Here’s a quick update, and an invitation.
Two Important Redistricting Cases at the US Supreme Court
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two landmark redistricting cases that have the potential to end gerrymandering for good. Rucho v. Common Cause is about gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly which is dominated by the GOP.
Lamone v. Benisek is a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. These two cases could potentially set a national precedent on how to draw fair maps. This could add an additional assurance that mapmaking here in Ohio after the 2020 census is fair and impartial.
Road Trip! Common Cause Ohio is organizing a road trip to Washington DC to join a major rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. There are also plans to lobby our Senators on the pro-democracy bill (HR1) that just passed the House. Sign up HERE. More details at the end of this post.
Redistricting Court Case in Ohio
The constitutionality of drawing district lines to manipulate the vote is being challenged back home in Ohio as well with Ohio A. Philip Randolph v. Householder. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and a group of Ohio residents in each of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts filed suit contending that the 2011 congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. ACLU Ohio argues that the 2011 map violates both our First Amendment rights and our Fourth. The trial, which looks juicy, began on March 4 and is scheduled to continue for ten days. The witness list includes political scientists and former U.S. Speaker John Boehner.
Remember how the mapmakers called the hotel room where they drew the new districts “the bunker?” Check out the story of the 2011 gerrymander here.
Listen to a Sound of Ideas program with ACLU of Ohio’s Freda Levenson, Cleveland.com’s Rich Exner, Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer, and former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges about the trial.
As you listen to this program, remember: Nothing justifies the crazy congressional map that was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2011. We deserve to participate in meaningful elections and the districts favor one party or the other and leave us with truly uncompetitive elections. The Voting Rights Act and the creation of one majority-minority district (Congressional District 11) cannot explain why there is a district running along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland. The map precisely entrenches 12 Republican districts and 4 Democratic.
Rucho Road Trip, and In-Person Lobbying for HR1!
This month Common Cause national is planning a major democracy mobilization to support two of our top national priorities: our lawsuit to END partisan gerrymandering, and our comprehensive voting rights & democracy reform package, House Resolution 1, also called the For the People Act.
On March 26th, Common Cause members and redistricting reformers from around the country will rally outside the Supreme Court as they hear oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. We will be joined by redistricting luminaries such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Members of Congress.
For those traveling from outside DC, the plan is to combine the visit to the Supreme Court with direct, in-person lobbying on House Resolution 1 and other pro-democracy reforms. This is an opportunity to talk to our Senators and encourage them to support the important voting rights and democracy reforms in the For the People Act. Sign up here by Friday, March 15.
Road trip schedule:
The next few months could be a history-making moment for our democracy -- if we gather together to take action.