Redistricting: Ohio Supreme Court gives commission until Wednesday to explain why it can't draw maps

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, is one of the seven members of Ohio's Redistricting Commission who failed to draw another set of legislative maps by the court's deadline.

Ohio's Supreme Court wants a written explanation by noon Wednesday for why the state's redistricting commission shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to draw new legislative maps.

The seven-member commission has submitted two sets of maps for Ohio's 99 state House seats and 33 Senate districts, but a 4-3 majority on the court threw them both out as unconstitutional.

The third set of legislative maps were supposed to be done by midnight Thursday, but the Republican majority said it was impossible to comply with the court's redistricting demands.

Democrats said the GOP members "lacked the will" to try. And the parties who brought the initial lawsuits petitioned the Supreme Court for a formal explanation.

"That challenge to this court's authority cannot stand," according to the petition. "This court should make respondents explain in detail why they chose a defiant course of action."

Ohio's Supreme court granted their motion late Friday and made it clear an extension wouldn't be possible.

"The clerk shall refuse to file a response that is untimely...," according to the court's announcement. "No requests or stipulations for extension of time shall be filed, and the clerk shall refuse to file any requests or stipulations for extension of time."

The court, in both 4-3 its decisions, ruled that maps must comply with the statewide voting preferences of Ohioans over the past decade, which were 54% for Republican candidates and 46% for Democratic ones.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said Thursday said that's not possible without violating the other constitutional rules for redistricting like not dividing counties and other municipalities.

It's not entirely clear what will happen if the court finds the commission, which includes Gov. Mike DeWine, in contempt. The constitution doesn't permit Ohio's Supreme Court to draw its own maps or implement ones not approved by the commission.

A group of Republican voters want to remove the case from state courts altogether. They filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday morning asking a three-judge panel to enact the second set of legislative maps.

Anna Staver is a reporter 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: Ohio Supreme Court wants a reason for redistricting fail by Wednesday