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US Supreme Court Ruling On Redistricting Could Affect Ohio

Jun 29, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled Arizona may allow an independent commission to oversee the drawing of congressional district lines.

Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports on what effect that ruling will have on Ohio.  

Common Cause Ohio leader Sam Gresham says he expected the court to rule in favor of Arizona’s proposed redistricting plan.

 

“It was just a delaying tactic on the part of people. There’s nothing in there that prevents it,” Gresham says.

Indeed, Ohio lawmakers cited the Arizona court case as a reason they didn’t want to tackle the issue of Congressional redistricting right now. Legislators did make proposed changes to the way lines for the state’s districts are drawn and voters will have the chance to approve or disapprove of that plan at the ballot box this fall. Now that the court has decided the Arizona case, a political science professor at Ohio State University, Richard Gunther, thinks state lawmakers can tackle the Congressional redistricting process.

“So I think this opens the door to a variety of reform attempts around the country and it certainly means that some of the possibilities that we can consider in Ohio are still on the board,” Gunther says.

It’s not possible for Ohio lawmakers to do anything with Congressional redistricting now to get it on this fall’s ballot with the legislative redistricting proposal. But Secretary of State Jon Husted says lawmakers shouldn’t wait too long to tackle the issue.

“Changing the way we draw congressional districts is inevitable. The question is do the congressional members and the members of the general assembly want to do it in a proactive way or do they want to wait until an outside group does its own endeavor to amend the constitution and change it for them,” Husted says.

The Arizona Congressional redistricting plan that was given the green light by the court allows an independent commission to draw the lines. The legislative plan Ohioans will vote on sets up a commission with lawmakers and others to draw those lines for seats at the Statehouse. And if it passes, redistricting watchers say it would be only a matter of time before the Congressional redistricting process in Ohio will be changed somehow.