By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) -The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday struck down the state’s new congressional map for illegally favoring Republicans over Democrats and ordered lawmakers to redraw the lines.
The decision could have a significant impact on the battle for control of Congress in this year’s midterm elections.
Electoral analysts had said the Republican-backed map would ensure the party won at least 12, and perhaps 13, of the state’s 15 congressional seats, in part by splitting Cincinnati’s county into multiple districts to dilute Democratic voting power there.
In a 4-3 decision, the state’s high court found that the map violated new provisions in the Ohio Constitution that were approved by voters in 2018, including language that prohibits any map that “favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.”
“When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins,” Justice Michael Donnelly wrote for the majority. “That perhaps explains how a party that generally musters no more than 55 percent of the statewide popular vote is positioned to reliably win anywhere from 75 percent to 80 percent of the seats in the Ohio congressional delegation.”
The court’s three Democrats were joined in the majority by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican. Three Republican justices dissented from the decision, arguing that the court was encroaching on the authority of the legislature.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Editing by Franklin Paul and Alistair Bell)