Partisan Gerrymandering Ruling Boosts Democrats' 2020 Hopes for Ohio

by | May 3, 2019 AT 5:24 PM

By Simone Pathé

A federal three-judge panel has struck down Ohio's congressional district map as a partisan gerrymander, giving Democrats hope of making inroads in a state where they failed to pick off any seats last fall.

Republicans hold 12 of the state's 16 congressional seats. National Democrats spent money in a special election in the 12th District last summer and targeted several GOP incumbents during the midterms but came up short in all of those races. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not include any Ohio seats on its initial list of targets for 2020.

The court ruled that Ohio must use a new map in 2020, and it is giving the state until June 14 to enact a remedial plan. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two partisan gerrymandering cases last month and is expected to issue rulings at the end of June.

This is the second congressional map to be struck down in as many weeks. A federal court invalidated portions of Michigan's congressional and legislative maps as partisan gerrymanders last week.

Democratic voters from each of Ohio's 16 districts, as well as two nonpartisan and three Democratic organizations challenged the state map drawn by a GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 and first used in 2012.

The court found that "invidious partisan intent _ the intent to disadvantage Democratic voters and entrench Republican representatives in power _ dominated the map-drawing process."

The court detailed involvement from national Republicans, including then-Speaker John A. Boehner, in the drawing of the 2012 map.

"Ohio Republicans understood that Speaker Boehner would have considerable input in the 2012 map and were committed to enacting a map that he supported," the court wrote.

"In some cases, it was clear that national Republican operatives had the authority to 'sign off' on changes before they were implemented by the State-level team,'" the court wrote.

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