The Ohio Supreme Court decided not to hold the republican majority members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission in contempt without any comment. Lawsuits are still pending with the Ohio Supreme Court over congressional maps, but will not be impacting the 2022 election cycle. Even though this news is disappointing to say the least, the Ohio Supreme Court did provide some good news: Eight Democratic candidates running for state legislature seats were placed on the August 2 ballot despite Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose claiming they had filed their petitions too late.
Responses from Ohio Redistricting Commission republican members as to why they should not have to show cause and why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for refusing to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court’s May 25th order to draw and adopt new legislative maps ranged from Ohio Auditor Keith Faber saying he is only one ORC member and “Acting alone he cannot compel the Commission to take any action.” Faber also claims petitioners “have not and cannot satisfy their burden to show that Auditor Faber should be held in contempt.” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose stated that petitioners issues “have already been exhaustively briefed in these cases and the relief they request is barred.” Also LaRose contends he “has not engaged in any contemptuous conduct and there is no basis to find him in contempt or order him to appear before this Court.” Ohio State Senator Rob McColley and Ohio State Representative Jeff LaRe both stated: “Under the necessity of an electoral emergency facing the Secretary of State, Ohio’s eighty-eight county boards of election, and most importantly, Ohio voters, Respondents were given an impossible task.”
Ohio State Representative Minority Leader Allison Russo (D) and State Senator Dr. Vernon Sykes (D) wanted republican commissioners called into court. “Without consequences for breaking the law, the majority Commissioners will not stop and will not give up their supermajority power. They will continue to “do what they want.”
Lawsuits are still active with the Ohio Supreme Court over congressional redistricting as well. Many of the same parties, including the League of Women Voters of Ohio, have sued to get the congressional maps passed in March, thrown out as unconstitutional. Those lawsuits are looking past 2022, seeking judgments to impact the 2024 election after the suing parties decided the timeline to change the congressional maps for this year’s elections was too condensed to push for a sooner change.
There has been some good news despite LaRose and the republican majority Redistricting Commission. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor – by a 4-3 vote with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor joining the court’s Democratic justices – of four Democratic candidates for state legislature to be placed on the August 2 ballot. This decision reverses Secretary of State Frank LaRose decision to disqualify the eight candidates claiming that they had missed the filing deadline. The candidates had filed their candidate paperwork on May 4 for the August 2 primary. The statute says that a candidate needs to file within ninety days of the election. May 4 is ninety days before the August 2 primary. However. LaRose claimed their filings were untimely because they didn’t file by the original filing deadline which was in February. That original February deadline was set ninety days before the May 3 primary. But when that May 3 primary was moved to August 2, LaRose refused to move the filing deadline. Adding to the confusion, as of the original filing deadline in February, the district lines for state House/state Senate had not even been set. Confused? That is exactly what the republicans and LaRose are hoping. In the end, these four Democratic candidates are now on the August 2 ballot: Two state senate candidates filed for State Senate District 25 – William DeMora and Elizabeth Thein; in the state House, Anita Somali, an OB/GYN, filed for District 11 and Leronda Jackson filed for District 39.