Ohio Issue 2: Putting the Supreme Court & Court of Appeals into the redistricting mix from the start

It is not at all uncommon for redistricting/reapportionment plans to wind up before a state’s appellate courts, either as an appeal froPreview Changesm a trial court ruling on the matter or via an original proceeding filed directly with the court. Ohio’s Issue 2, however, would put the state’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals into the mix when it comes to redistricting from the start.

Background

Issue 2, submitted to voters via signature gathered initiative, creates an independent redistricting commission. Under the plan:

  1. The state’s Chief Justice would select a panel of 8 Court of Appeals judges, only 4 of whom may be from the same party
  2. Those 8 judges would appoint an independent auditor and select potential members of the redistricting commission
  3. The 8-judge panel would submit 42 potential redistricting commission members (3 groups of 14; 1 from each of the two largest political parties + 1 group of independents) from all applicants. At least 5 of 8 judges must agree on each potential commissioner.
  4. House leadership (Speaker and minority leader) would strike 6 names each leaving 8 Republicans, 8 Democrats, and 8 Independents.
  5. From the 24 remaining, the Court of Appeals judges would select at random 3 from each grouping, leaving 9. Those 9 would then pick another 3 for a total of 12.

In addition to the selection process described above, Issue 2 also explicitly provides the Supreme Court with exclusive jurisdiction on redistricting and requires, if the commission unable to reach agreement on plan, the Supreme Court to pick from plans submitted to commission that meet criteria set elsewhere in amendment. Boundaries set by the Supreme Court are to last for a single election cycle and a new redistricting commission gets a chance to try and set new boundaries.

What do other states do?

It is not unheard of for state supreme courts or their chief justices to be constitutionally required to be involved in apportionment and reapportionment, although few put the judges into the process from the get-go as Ohio’s Issue 2 would do. Constitutional provisions from 19 states below the fold.

 

State Provision
Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments nominates candidates for appointment to the redistricting commission.
California If redistricting commission fails to approve map, Supreme Court to appoint special masters.
Colorado Chief justice appoints 4 of the 11 members of reapportionment commission.
Florida If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Court to apportion districts.
Hawaii If officials designated to name members of the reapportionment commission or apportionment advisory council fail to do so within timeframes, Supreme Court to fill.
Idaho If officials designated to name members of the reapportionment commission, Supreme Court to fill.
Illinois If redistricting commission fails to approve map, Supreme Court to pick 2 names (not of the same political party) for Secretary of State to pick at random. Person chosen becomes 9th member of commission.
Iowa If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Court to apportion districts.
Louisiana If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Court to apportion districts.
Maine If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Judicial Court to apportion districts.
Michigan If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Court to choose from plans submitted.
Mississippi If legislature fails to approve map, reapportionment commission with Chief Justice as chair to apportion districts.
Missouri If legislature fails to approve map, reapportionment commission made up for 6 judges from the state’s appellate courts to be chosen by Supreme Court.
Montana If 4 members of redistricting commission cannot select 5th member to serve with them, Supreme Court to pick.
New Jersey If the apportionment commission fails to approve map, chief justice to name 11th member of commission.
Oregon Supreme Court may correct apportionment/reapportionment “if the court considers it necessary.”
Pennsylvania If 4 members of redistricting commission cannot select 5th member to serve with them as chair, Supreme Court to pick.
South Dakota If legislature fails to approve map, Supreme Court to apportion districts.
Washington If 4 members of redistricting commission cannot select 5th member to serve with them as chair, Supreme Court to pick. If commission fails to approve map, Supreme Court to apportion districts.

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