Trump-appointed federal court judges end Ohio's redistricting battle, side with GOP

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Posted at 7:40 PM, May 30, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nearly nine months after Ohio was supposed to have legislative maps for the 2022 election, a decision by a federal district court Friday evening gave Republicans the green light to use twice-rejected unconstitutional legislative maps.

The Ohio Supreme Court rejected legislative maps for being unconstitutional and gerrymandered for a fifth time on Wednesday. In the bipartisan majority statement, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said the Republicans "engaged in a stunning rebuke of the rule of law" by refusing to create legal maps.

Even though there were threats of holding the commissioners in contempt for not following the law, the court never followed through, thus leading the state to the current decision.

After Republicans filed to get a federal court involved, Trump appointees stepped in. U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amul R. Thapar and U.S. Western District of Kentucky Judge Benjamin J. Beaton voted to use the third set of maps. The judges were appointed by former President Donald Trump. While U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, opposed their opinion.

Read more about the court decisions on News 5 Cleveland's news partner Ohio Capital Journal's site.

In a 2-1 decision, Thapar and Beaton gave the okay for Republicans to move forward, disregarding what the highest court in Ohio said.

The House map has a 54-45 GOP advantage, Jonathan Entin, Case Western Reserve University law professor, said. The Senate has an 18-15.

He and other lawyers add that nearly 20 of the Democratic House districts and about 10 in the Senate are considered political toss-ups. None of the Republican districts are.

Trump-appointed federal court judges end Ohio's redistricting battle, side with GOP
Trump-appointed federal court judges end Ohio's redistricting battle, side with GOP

RELATED: Answering viewer questions about the Ohio redistricting process

In early May, Sec. of State Frank LaRose urged for an early August primary date. The May 3 primary had a rocky start, with him saying boards of elections were rushed due to not agreeing on maps.

What should have been 100 days to prepare for a primary election turned into 45.

"Oh, sure, yeah. I mean, no question about it," LaRose said when responding to if the rush may have caused the issues at different boards. "Nobody does their best work in a hurry."

When you're doing 100 days' worth of work in 45 days, then "things like this can happen," he said.

"We're warning right now that we don't want to end up with that same compressed timeline," the secretary said.. "We want them to have the normal hundred days that they have to get everything set up."

RELATED: Sec. of State blames rushed preparation period for rocky start to May 3 primary

The next primary will take place on August 2. Voters will choose their state House and Senate lawmakers and members of the state central committee which could be the chair of one of the state political parties.

In a directive sent out by LaRose over the weekend, he said that even though the date for the legislative primary has moved, no new names will be added to the primary ballot. Independent candidates can still file up until August 1 to petition to be on the general election ballot.

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