COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The federal judges who found Ohio's congressional map unconstitutional won't delay their order for a new map to be drawn by June 14, so the state will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to put that on hold, the attorney general said Thursday.
A three-judge panel ordered the new map for the 2020 elections after concluding that Ohio's congressional districts were unconstitutionally drawn by Republicans for their political advantage. The same judges declined Thursday to put their order on hold while Republican officials in Ohio appeal it.
Attorney General Dave Yost said that outcome was expected. He said Ohio will ask the Supreme Court to put the order on hold pending the justices' ruling on similar matters that are before them.
If the ruling stands, it could be an important victory for Democrats. They hope redrawn boundaries in this longtime battleground state would help them gain House seats and deliver delegates for a Democratic presidential nominee next year.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose repeated his comments about the judges' conclusions Thursday, saying he'll work to administer fair elections in 2020 "pending the conclusion of the judicial process." He noted that Ohio voters already had passed a bipartisan ballot initiative to change the mapmaking process.
Ohio has 12 Republican congressmen and four Democratic representatives under the current map, which went into effect for the 2012 elections.
Voters' rights and Democratic groups that sued Ohio Republican officials argue that redistricting after the 2010 census yielded a map that produced an impenetrable GOP advantage. They point to places such as Cincinnati, a city dominated by Democrats but split into two districts now held by Republicans.
Attorneys for the Republicans have said that map was drawn with bipartisan support.
The court panel that considered the case consisted of two judges nominated by Democratic presidents and one nominated by a Republican.
A different three-judge panel ruled recently in a similar case in Michigan , concluding that some of that state's districts must be redrawn because the congressional and legislative maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. That ruling also is being appealed.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court already is considering a gerrymandering case that could lead to a major decision on how far politicians can go in drawing districts. That case involves challenges to congressional maps drawn by Democrats in Maryland and Republicans in North Carolina.
Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Dan Sewell contributed to this report.