Ohio Congressional Map Is Illegal Gerrymander, Federal Court Rules

A federal court on Friday tossed out Ohio’s congressional map, ruling that Republican state lawmakers had carved up the state to give themselves an illegal partisan advantage and to dilute Democrats’ votes in a way that predetermined the outcome of elections.

The ruling, by a three-judge panel from the Federal District Court in Cincinnati, ordered new maps to be drawn before the 2020 election. The decision is subject to appeal. The Supreme Court, which last year sidestepped the issue of whether partisan gerrymandering violates the United States Constitution, is expected to rule this spring on two additional cases, from Maryland, where Democrats drew the maps, and from North Carolina, where Republicans drew them.

Ohio’s maps, in effect since 2012, have solidified a congressional delegation that has never varied from 12 Republicans and four Democrats — or 75 percent for one party in a swing state where presidential and statewide elections are often close.

In their unanimous ruling, the judges wrote, “In this case, 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.”