Arizona redistricting case and its impact in Ohio

Monday's Supreme Court decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission may soon have an impact in Ohio. In the Arizona case the Supreme Court found that a state can appoint an independent commission to redistrict congressional districts without violating the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Ohio has already proposed an independent commission to redistrict voting districts for state races, but has not tackled the issue for U.S. congressional elections. Voters will decide whether to approve the amendment regarding redistricting for state races in the fall. We discussed the details of this in December, but here are some basics:

  • The existing panel of five members will be increased to seven, which will include the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two members of both the majority and minority parties.
  • Four votes are needed to pass a plan, and two of those must come from members of the minority party.
  • If a plan passes, it is in place for ten years, until the panel reconvenes.
  • If a plan does not get approval from the minority party then the panel may pass a plan with a simple majority vote, but it is only good for four years, and the panel must reconvene at that time to consider another plan.
  • If there is still not approval from the majority party, then the plan will be put into place by a simple majority vote again, this time for 6 years.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Representative John Boehner had previously urged Ohio lawmakers to wait for the decision in the Arizona case before addressing congressional redistricting. The article states that State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, is planning to propose legislation that would use the proposal for state redistricting as a template to draw district lines for elections to the U.S. Congress. The idea has bipartisan support, but is drawing heat from Rep. Boehner, who argues that it would allow "unelected" and "unaccountable" officials to make these important decisions for the state.