Ohio politicians and civil liberty groups are outraged following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to stay out of individual states’ disputes regarding redrawing district lines over gerrymandering.
According to the ACLU of Ohio, the high court’s decision allows individuals in power to abuse the system and ignore the will of the voters.
“The court’s decision to allow the practice of gerrymandering to continue, to flourish, and to evade review by the judicial system, leaves it in the hands of those who will continue to abuse their awesome power whenever they can to defeat the will of the voters,” said Freda Levenson, legal director, ACLU of Ohio. “In Ohio, this means that in the 2020 election, the map, rather than the electorate, will once again determine who occupies each of our congressional seats.”
"This is profoundly disappointing, it's a grave blow to our democracy," said Levenson.
ACLU of Ohio attorney Alora Thomas-Lundborg stated that the Supreme Court’s decision effectively keeps voters from selecting their own representatives.
"The bottom line is voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around,” Thomas-Lundborg said.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said the ruling was not surprising. "This is the most special interest Supreme Court in my lifetime where these judges put their thumbs on the scale of justice," said Brown.
"Instead of voters electing their representatives to Congress, we're seeing politicians choose who their constituencies are and who their voters are and that's a betrayal of American values."
Officials from the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus shared similar sentiments on the Supreme Court’s decision. Ohio Rep. Stephanie Howse (D), who is also the OLBC’s president, released the following statement:
“The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus is extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling on partisan gerrymandering. Despite the past achievements in seeking equality at the ballot box, we continue to see communities targeted and muted for political gain. The right to vote should never be marginalized as it is sacred to our nation’s democracy and promise. Ohioans made their clamor for change to our electoral maps known when they voted to pass Issue 1 in May 2018. The Supreme Court has failed the people with this ruling in setting a precedent that allows our democracy to be corrupted and hinders the people’s right to have fair elections. We must give our citizens the opportunity to be heard equally so that we truly have a government that is by the people and for the people.”
According to U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D), the ruling will result in "further partisan gerrymandering" following next year's census.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court’s conservative justices undermines democratic participation for millions of Americans in Ohio and across the entire United States,” Kaptur said.
Kaptur said the decision will open "flood gates for extreme, partisan gerrymandering to go on completely unchecked in the United States."
According to the congresswoman, Ohio's partisan lines were "drawn without regard for existing communities" by Republicans for their own party instead of residents, effectively "diluting the votes of millions of voters."
Republican officials were pleased following the Supreme Courts' decision Thursday.
"This comes as no surprise. I appreciate the court confirming that Ohio’s congressional map is valid and constitutional. The court confirmed, as we have said all along, this is not a question for the court but a political question that is properly left to the states,” said Larry Householder, Ohio House of Representatives speaker.