Playing Chicken With Ohio’s Congressional Districts

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A few weeks ago, after going through the motions of taking public input at statewide hearings and soliciting maps from citizens online at DrawtheLineOhio.com, Republicans in the state legislature tossed out a map they’d clearly developed in a backroom devoid of outside input.

The new map split many urban counties into four and five pieces, severed communities, linked far-flung cities into a common district, drew districts that sprawled across half the state, and created one district whose pieces were joined only by the Sandusky Bay Bridge, with seagulls possibly carrying messages from one half to the other. The House voted to pass the map in 48 hours, allotting no time for public input. It also inserted an appropriation into the bill, something the Ohio Constitution says cannot be repealed.

There was a fly in the ointment, however. A few years ago, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously found that an appropriation cannot be inserted into a bill solely to make it immune to repeal. Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected the Ohio Democratic Party request for ballot language to launch a repeal referendum anyway. The ODP appealed to the court to reiterate its earlier decision. On Friday, the 6-1 Republican Supreme Court did so. So the ODP has refiled its referendum request.

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