Republicans praised a U.S. Supreme Court decision to delay lower court orders for the Ohio and Michigan legislatures to redraw their Congressional and state legislative districts until the court rules on similar lawsuits. Democrats have come out against the decision.
Lower courts had ruled that the states’ maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered and provided deadlines for creating new maps, but both cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. The nation's highest court is currently reviewing similar lawsuits in Maryland and North Carolina, and these rulings will likely establish nationwide standards for what constitutes constitutional district lines.
These decisions, which are expected by the end of June, will decide whether states can legally gerrymander legislative districts to favor one political party over the other. The lines in both Michigan and Ohio were ruled to have been constitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
"The Senate appreciates today's ruling, which stays the effects of the current litigation while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering similar cases,” Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina said in a statement. “We thank the Ohio Attorney General's office for their work representing the state on this critical issue."
In a statement, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox called the lawsuit against their current maps “a desperate attempt by partisan Democrats to redraw our state’s legislative lines two years early.”
“Their political games would disenfranchise Michigan voters and force early elections,” Cox said. “I applaud the United State Supreme Court’s decision to issue a stay in the case. This will allow our legislature to continue focusing on getting things done for the people of Michigan, instead of unnecessary partisan battles over political maps.”
Democrats in Michigan, who were hoping that new lines would be drawn early enough to affect upcoming elections, criticized the decision.
“The people of Michigan have already spoken, and they want fair elections and their voices heard – not after the next election, not down the road – now,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement.
“We are more than disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, but we will not allow Republican gerrymandering or efforts to silence our citizens at the ballot box stand in the way of Democrats connecting with every Michigan voter,” Barnes said.
The lower court ruling in Ohio would have required the state to redraw the lines by June 14 and be given to the the judges by June 21. They would have had to take effect before the 2020 elections.
In Michigan, the lower court ruling would have required the state to redraw its maps by August 1. The state would have had a special election in 2020 in the districts ruled to have been gerrymandered.