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Does this Ohio Judge’s retirement mean the end of state fair elections? | | Ohio

debtOr last year, Maureen O’Connor was essentially the only thing that was keeping Republicans from cementing their hold on the state legislature and congressional delegations. retired from his job as Chief Justice of need a judge I will retire when I am 70), reducing the chances of Ohioans getting a fair electoral map at any time in the future.

of Seven Divide Ruling Last year, O’Connor, a registered Republican, joined the Democratic Party and played a crucial swing vote role in stopping Ohio Republicans from enacting a map that was grossly distorted to their advantage. Every time the Supreme Court dismissed the map, Republicans plotted slightly in favor of the Democrats. None passed the court summons.

O’Connor’s confrontation with state legislative leaders was one of the most important redistricting battles in America.made it clear that he would ignore the impudent plans of state legislators voter approval Measures to limit serious partisan gerrymandering. It also highlighted the consequent role state courts can play in cracking down on gerrymandering. This could be ruled out entirely by the U.S. Supreme Court in its next lawsuit.

But in the end Republican In the state legislatures, the stalemate only ran out of time. Ohio had to have a map for last year’s election and implement gerrymander districts when there were no alternatives (unlike some other states, Ohio’s Supreme Court are not allowed to draw maps).

“I was kind of blown away by what they were doing, what they were proposing,” O’Connor said in an interview earlier this month, just weeks after retiring. [then it] It became abundantly clear that they were not going to do that. “

She described the current reorganization process as “a self-perpetuating control mechanism for one party”.

“That’s it,” she said. “Once you have electoral districts that give you a supermajority in Congress, you will be able to govern. Ohio through that lens.

“Then, when elections are being held using those maps, it will continue. The same people will be elected, they will have the same agenda, they will follow the same path.”

In 2022, Ohio voters elected representatives to the state legislature and legislature under an “unconstitutional map,” O’Connor said.

The state constitution requires the state legislature and legislative delegations to reflect Ohio’s party composition over the past decade, which is approximately 54% Republicans and 46% Democrats. But when Republicans faltered in coming up with a compliant plan, courts allowed them to use the unconstitutional instead of 2022.

O’Connor admitted the disturbing truth about gerrymandering. There are really no negative consequences for those who practice gerrymandering.

“No one in Washington is saying, ‘You weren’t properly chosen.’ I mean… people moved on,” she said. “It’s the same with the House of Commons. General Assembly. No one said, ‘You can’t vote for this because it’s illegal.’ Otherwise we will disobey your laws. Or it cannot be operated. They didn’t say that.”

Now the final barrier to the gerrymander map, O’Connor has disappeared from the court.New courts with Republicans still a 4 to 3 majoritymore sympathetic and more likely to endorse Republican gerrymandering, further strengthening Republican control in the state.

An Ohio voter filling out a manual ballot in the midterm elections. Photo: Michael Conroy/AP

But the role O’Connor and the Ohio Supreme Court played in blocking redistricting shows how state courts can check legislators who attempt gerrymandering. However, in a lawsuit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, moore vs harper, you can turn it over. In that case, attorneys for the North Carolina legislature argue that the U.S. Constitution does not allow state courts to invalidate congressional district maps or have a say in federal elections.

O’Connor said it would be “troublesome” for conservative lawyers who believe in unilateralism to interpret the U.S. Constitution from its original official meaning to accept such an idea. Little historical evidence exists.

“I think this is going too far by the legislature. I think it shakes the whole foundation of checks and balances. This is what our founding fathers wanted. That’s why we created two divisions,” she said.

Last year, when O’Connor opposed the Republican effort to gerrymander, there was some chatter among Republican lawmakers about whether she should be impeached. “It didn’t go anywhere – it’s a political drama,” she said.

But she’s also frustrated by the idea of ​​being lumped with a Republican both in her state and nationally. I don’t mean that,” she said.

Ohio’s Supreme Court annulled the state’s legislative map for the first time just over a year ago, O’Connor wrote: another concurring opinion Voters in Ohio are taking up a constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting commission, proposing to completely strip politicians of their ability to draw districts. It was a brief but striking statement, a plea for voters in Ohio to do more to stop gerrymandering.

“It was true. It was necessary. It’s the only solution,” she said of her opinion.

O’Connor, now retired, has revealed that he plans to push for new constitutional amendments to create a more independent process.

“When asked what he was going to do after retirement, he nicely said that he was going to be with people who were ultimately considering constitutional reform…that would be fair.

“It’s going to be put on the ballot again. Constitutional amendment. God willing,” she said.

But when asked if he thinks Ohioans will have access to a political map that reflects the make-up of the state, O’Connor said: I really don’t know the answer to that. “

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/26/ohio-judge-maureen-oconnor-republicans-gerrymandering-elections Does this Ohio Judge’s retirement mean the end of state fair elections? | | Ohio

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