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Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, will be leaving office at the end of the year and revealed she will become part of the anti-gerrymandering effort. O’Connor recently spoke about her next steps given she has been term-limited as the head of the state’s highest court.
“It did not prevent gerrymandering and it did not prevent the use in the upcoming election of unconstitutional maps that were drawn both for the congressional and general assembly districts,” O’Connor said, adding that she wanted an independent redistricting commission for voters to choose a model “that distances a redistricting commission from partisan politics by not having elected officials on the redistricting commission.”
“Let’s try having ordinary, sensible people who are not driven by politics, but rather by what’s fair: fair representation and justice,” O’Connor said.
“People who go to the polls vote in most of the races and then stop when it comes to the judges, in all courts, because they don’t know,” O’Connor added. “There is so much more we can do for the people of Ohio.”
“At least for a few months,” she said.
As she exits, Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor chides fellow Republicans who ignored Supreme Court rulings
"It is a horrible example of one branch of government disrespecting (another branch) because they don't like the decision" https://t.co/KayUQhnKBR via @DispatchAlerts
— Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) November 21, 2022
Republicans swept the Supreme Court races in the midterm elections and will keep control of the state’s highest court.
The political balance of the Ohio Supreme Court will remain with Republicans, with incumbent GOP Justices Patrick Fischer and Pat DeWine holding leads, and voters poised to hand Justice Sharon Kennedy the chief justice’s gavel. Fischer and DeWine declared victory over Democratic state appellate court judges Terri Jamison and Marilyn Zayas, respectively. Both Republicans had about 57% of the nearly 4 million votes tallied just before midnight.
In the chief justice race, Kennedy defeated Justice Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, who will continue to serve on the court as an associate justice. Kennedy had just under 57% of the vote. Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who voters reelected Tuesday, will appoint Kennedy’s replacement. He’ll almost certainly choose a Republican.
Currently, there are four Republicans, including the chief justice, and three Democrats on the court. That will likely continue next year, with a bench that includes: Republicans Kennedy, Fischer, DeWine, and Gov. Mike DeWine’s appointee; and Democrats Brunner, along with Justices Melody Stewart and Michael P. Donnelly, who were not up for reelection this year.
“It is morning again at the Ohio Supreme Court,” Kennedy said during her victory speech. “And my promise to every Ohioan is that we will begin every endeavor and every initiative working from one question – will it be better for the people that we serve?”
Justice Pat DeWine said during his victory speech Tuesday night that it was a great night for the Ohio Supreme Court.
“It’s a great honor, and it’s an incredibly important job, and I’m grateful for the voters for entrusting the responsibility to me,” he said.
The Ohio gerrymandering case that turned Republicans off of O’Connor over the summer was one of many rulings that came down.
The battle over newly-redrawn congressional maps has heated up and could play a huge role in the 2024 elections.
In July, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to reject a GOP-drawn map of U.S. House districts as gerrymandered, sending it back to meet constitutional parameters approved by Ohio voters.
However, new maps will not be put in place until 2024.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Louisiana state legislature by allowing the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map to remain in place.
Prior to that, the Florida Supreme Court delivered a gigantic win to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the Sunshine State by “rejecting a request for a hearing over the state’s new congressional map that eliminates a majority Black district.”
In early June, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Republicans’ new redistricting law is legal and will make it more difficult for the only Kansas congressional delegate to win re-election.