Eric Holder Says Ohio's New Congressional Map 'An Insult' as Democrats Sue Over Boundaries

Ohio's new congressional map has fueled a lawsuit from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee's (NDRC) legal arm, targeting Republican Governor Mike DeWine who signed off on the "rigged" and "insulting" map.

The newly drawn map of congressional districts was challenged Monday when the lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Supreme Court from the NDRC on behalf of a group of Ohio voters. The constitutional challenge alleges that the boundaries of the map represent partisan gerrymandering by Republicans.

The plan is "even more rigged than its predecessor and an outlier among partisan gerrymanders nationwide," the lawsuit alleges. "To achieve this remarkable result, the map-drawers subordinated traditional redistricting criteria, tore communities of interest apart, and diluted the voting power of Black Ohioans."

Committee Chair Eric Holder, attorney general under former President Barack Obama, said that the map is "an insult to Ohioans," who overwhelmingly supported redistricting reform in 2015 and 2018.

The lawsuit challenges the final map of the U.S. House districts that was voted through the Ohio Statehouse last week, passing without Democratic support and going on to be signed by DeWine on Saturday. Without the support of Democrats, the map will be in place for four years instead of the usual 10.

"When compared to the other proposals offered from House and Senate caucuses, both Republican and Democrat, the map in SB 258 makes the most progress to produce a fair, compact, and competitive map," DeWine said in a signing statement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ohio Statehouse Meeting
Ohio’s new congressional map has fueled a lawsuit from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee’s legal arm, targeting Republican Governor Mike DeWine. Above, DeWine (foreground) speaks to state Senator Vernon Sykes (seated), the co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, as other members of the panel prepare for a meeting on at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on September 15, 2021. Julie Carr Smyth/Associated Press

The lawsuit contends the map leans 12-3 in favor of Republicans, though the GOP describes it as 6-2, with the remaining seven districts being competitive.

Republicans, who controlled the mapmaking process, assert the map is fair, constitutional, competitive and does not unduly favor either political party or its incumbents.

The NDRC's suit targets DeWine and the other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, rather than state lawmakers who ultimately okayed the map. Voters empowered the commission with a potentially pivotal role in approving Ohio's legislative and congressional district maps. It missed its deadline for approving a congressional map without taking a vote.