Black Caucus leader: Officials refuse to do what voters demands, Supreme Court requires

·2 min read
Anti-gerrymandering demonstrators rally in Washington, D.C., in 2019.
Anti-gerrymandering demonstrators rally in Washington, D.C., in 2019.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission on Saturday approved in a party line vote new state legislative maps that fail to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court’s directive and a constitutional requirement that state legislative maps reflect the statewide preferences of Ohio voters.

More: Ohio Redistricting Commission passes new 4-year maps for legislative districts, Supreme Court to review

According to Dave’s Redistricting App, Republicans are projected to win 57 of 99 House seats and 20 of 33 Senate seats, both of which do not match Ohio’s statewide voting averages over the last 10 years – 54% Republican and 46% Democratic.

If the Ohio Supreme Court approves the maps, they would go into effect for four years instead of 10, given that they did not receive bipartisan approval.

This process leaves Ohioans asking several questions.

Why can’t a commission including Ohio’s top elected officials follow Supreme Court directives and agree on bipartisan maps? Why were there no public hearings? Why were racial demographics ignored?

More: Redistricting: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down state House and Senate maps

John Meacham is executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
John Meacham is executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down Ohio’s state legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional. The 4-3 rulings on the legislative maps exposed Republican members of the commission for reducing its work to partisan gerrymandering.

The rejected maps would have favored Republicans 62-37 in the House and 23-10 in the Senate.

More: Redistricting: Would Ohio be better off with an independent commission? Would voters approve one?

The Ohio Supreme Court then ordered the commission to draw maps that represented Ohio's voting preferences. The recently adopted legislative maps fail to adhere to the proportionality requirement set by the Supreme Court’s order. The newly adopted legislative maps will once again face the Supreme Court for approval.

As we shift from legislative to congressional maps this week, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus urges the Ohio legislature to reflect on what Ohioans are demanding and what the Supreme Court requires. There must be opportunities for public testimony.

More: Redistricting: Federal lawsuit says Ohio maps dilute Black voters' say

Further, Ohio's legislative and congressional maps must not overlook racial demographics during the map-making process.

Considering racial demographics is imperative to ensure communities of color are not split and that their voting power to elect the candidate that best represents them is not marginalized.

John Meacham is executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Opinion: Are racial demographics a factor in drawing district maps

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting