Redistricting has been a major topic around the nation.
Every state in the union displayed a new congressional district map for the 2022 election in June 2022.
At the time, FiveThirtyEight reported that several of those maps were being contested in court, but none appeared to have a good chance of being reversed before the midterm elections.
The outlet stated at the time that there were several key conclusions to be drawn from the redistricting cycle for 2021–22. “first, the number of swing seats will continue to decline; the new maps have six fewer highly competitive districts than the old ones. And, second, people of color will remain underrepresented in Congress.”
States are debating internally where to design the boundaries for their own voting districts.
Months ahead of the midterm elections in November, the controversy over newly redrawn congressional districts has grown hotter and may have a significant impact on the 2024 elections.
In several states, redistricting-related decisions have either been made or delayed.
In June, the United States Supreme Court agreed with the Louisiana state legislature and upheld the state’s congressional redistricting plan.
The state’s six congressional districts were to be redrew to include two with a majority of Black voters after a federal judge had determined that the layout violated the Voting Rights Act.
The Supreme Court stated in a succinct one-page order that it would defer making a decision until after the conclusion of an equally important case from Alabama that will be heard during the upcoming term, which starts in October.
Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, three liberal Justices, dissented from the court’s 6-3 decision in the case.
Prior to that, the Florida Supreme Court delivered a gigantic win to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the Sunshine State by “rejecting a request for a hearing over the state’s new congressional map that eliminates a majority Black district.”
The single Kansas congressional delegate will find it harder to gain reelection after the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Republicans’ new redistricting scheme in early June.
A GOP-drawn map of the U.S. House of Representatives was rejected as gerrymandered in a 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in July. The map was then redrawn to comply with constitutional requirements established by Ohio voters.
However, because new maps won’t be in place until 2024, redistricting won’t be in place in time for the midterm elections.
But these modifications might have an impact on the upcoming presidential election.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court has spoken out on the subject of redistricting and how it impacts her home state.
O’Connor expressed concern for Ohioans after a resounding majority supported a constitutional amendment to abolish gerrymandering, but it “didn’t work,” according to O’Connor.
According to O’Connor, “It did not prevent gerrymandering and it did not prevent the use in the upcoming election on Nov. 8 of unconstitutional maps that were drawn both for the congressional and general assembly districts.”
According to O’Connor, Article 11, the constitutional amendment intended to forbid excessive partisanship in redistricting, “has no discernible or enforceable effect to curb gerrymandering in Ohio.”
“The Ohio Supreme Court sent back five versions of the legislative district maps as unconstitutional and two versions of the congressional map with similar partisan favoritism concerns. O’Connor was a part of all seven majority opinions in the cases.”
In fact, she received criticism from members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission about her decision to side with those ruling the maps unconstitutional,” according to City Beat.
Frank LaRose, the chief secretary of state for Ohio’s elections and a member of the committee, implied that he supported her removal as chief justice due to the actions.
According to LaRose, “The independent state legislature doctrine has the potential, if it were adopted to its full limit, of saying it would violate the U.S. Constitution to give the state courts any role.”
A model “that distances a redistricting commission from partisan politics by not having elected officials on the redistricting commission,” is one that voters can select from, according to O’Connor, who also advocated for an independent redistricting commission.
“Let’s try having ordinary, sensible people who are not driven by politics, but rather by what’s fair: fair representation and justice,” O’Connor added.
“People who go to the polls vote in most of the races and then stop when it comes to the judges, in all courts, because they don’t know,” O’Connor continued. “There is so much more we can do for the people of Ohio.”
O’Conner intends to take further action after she steps down from the bench, so she will still be very much involved in the process.
Justice O’Conner has now announced that she will be leaving office at the end of the year and revealed she will become part of the anti-gerrymandering effort.
While delivering the “State of the Judiciary” at the Ohio Judicial Conference, O’Connor spoke about her next steps given she has been term-limited as the head of the state’s highest court.
O’Connor’s seat is on the ballot, meaning November’s Ohio Supreme Court races could change how redistricting cases are handled, Conservative Brief reports.
The bottom line is that the constitutional amendment meant to prohibit undue partisanship in the redistricting process, "has no discernible or enforceable effect to curb gerrymandering in Ohio," Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said.https://t.co/kEUznaW3VP
— Ohio Capital Journal (@OhioCapJournal) September 17, 2022