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The Ohio Environmental Council Responds to Today’s Supreme Court Decisions on Gerrymandering

David Miller, June 18, 2018

Columbus, Ohio — In May, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted for Issue 1, ensuring a bipartisan congressional redistricting process. Today, the United States Supreme Court declined to rule on political gerrymandering, affirming the choice of Ohioans to democratically create political safeguards, rather than rely on the courts.

This morning, the Supreme Court issued opinions in Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone, two cases which alleged unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. In Gill v. Whitford, the Court held that the plaintiffs in Wisconsin lacked Article III Standing because they alleged the entire state map failed. However, the court emphasized that plaintiffs may revise their claim to allege that the districts in which they live are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, rather than the entire map.

In Benisek v. Lamone, the Justices kicked the case back to the lower courts. Even though this Maryland gerrymandering case was about a single congressional district, the Supreme Court did not rule on gerrymandering in this case due to particular procedural issues.

“The Supreme Court’s choice to punt the fate of political gerrymandering proves that Ohioans needed Issue 1 to protect their democracy,” said Trent Dougherty, General Counsel for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Because the Supreme Court has decided to put politically motivated gerrymandering on the back-burner, Ohio must shine a light for the rest of the country and show everyone what a bipartisan congressional redistricting process looks like in 2021.”

Next year, the Supreme Court may consider North Carolina’s gerrymandering case, Rucho v. Common Cause, but that case also involves an entire map, rather than a single district.

“Ohioans should be proud that they have developed a map-making framework that ensures bipartisanship,” said Dougherty. “Ohioans must continue to fight for democracy because the Supreme Court has made clear that it will not protect our political process, at least for now.”