The Ohio Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision invalidated the GOP-drawn legislative maps and ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission back to the drawing board.
The commission must come back and produce new House and Senate maps within 10 days, which is Jan. 22. But because the deadline falls on a weekend, the actual date is Jan. 24.
Still pending before the court is what justices have to say on the new congressional map, which also faces a constitutional challenge. A decision is expected soon.
Released on Wednesday, the court issued multiple opinions on the legislative maps – the majority, the minority, and concurrences. Here are the key takeaways.
What did the majority say?
Who wrote the majority opinion? Justice Melody Stewart, a Democrat.
Who joined it? Democrats Jennifer Brunner and Michael Donnelly and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a Republican.
What were the key points?
The Ohio Constitution required mapmakers to attempt to match the statewide voting preferences of voters over the past decade. That amounts to 54% for Republican candidates and 46% for Democratic candidates. "The commission is required to attempt to draw a plan in which the statewide proportion of Republican-leaning districts to Democratic-leaning districts closely corresponds to those percentages."
The Ohio Supreme Court had the authority to toss out the maps because the maps didn't attempt to match voting preferences.
Voting commission members out of office wasn't enough of a penalty. “The notion that the voters who overwhelmingly approved the amendment of Article XI meant to hinge the eradication of partisan gerrymandering on the election of various officeholders simply holds no water."
The decision, made by three Democrats and one Republican, wasn't partisan.
"Our analysis and conclusion in these cases would be the same regardless of which political party makes up the majority of the commission or drives the map-drawing process."
What did the minority say?
Who wrote the minority opinion? Justice Sharon Kennedy, a Republican.
Who joined it? Justices Patrick Fischer and Patrick DeWine, both Republicans.
What were the key points?
The majority ignores limits on the court's authority "in favor of its own policy preferences."
Nothing in the Ohio Constitution supports a mandate for "proportional representation."
Article 6 in the constitution – which the majority relies upon to invalidate the map – takes a back seat to other mapmaking requirements spelled out in other sections of the constitution.
Language in the constitution tells mapmakers to "attempt" to draw districts that don't unduly favor or disfavor one political party. And the commission made attempts to do so.
Also, Stewart ended the majority opinion saying the ruling would be the same regardless of which political party controls the mapmaking.
That sparked a salty response from Kennedy, who said it insinuates that those in the minority aren't faithfully discharging their duties.
What did the chief say?
O'Connor, who was the swing vote in the decision, had a message for Ohio voters: You can go back to the ballot to change the process again.
Voters approved the current process in 2015. At the time, advocates said the new system would foster bipartisanship and compromise.
O'Connor said Ohio Redistricting Commission, comprised of three statewide elected officials and four state legislators, "is seemingly unwilling to put aside partisan concerns as directed by the people’s vote."
She suggested a different route: "a truly independent, nonpartisan commission that more effectively distances the redistricting process from partisan politics."
Laura Bischoff and Jessie Balmert are reporters for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Key facts from the Ohio Supreme Court gerrymandering decision