Posts Tagged 'State Rep. Dennis Murray'

Ohio Supreme Court Overrules Challenge to Gerrymandered Districts in Split 4-3 decision

In a closely-divided decision, today the Ohio Supreme Court handed down an opinion that the three justices in the minority, including Chief Justice Maureen O’Conner, said was contrary to both Ohio’s Constitution and its own precedent, thereby highlighting the need for fundamental reform of Ohio’s reapportionment process.  Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) stated that “the growing frustration that voters have today with the way in which the majority party cements its control one decade at a time through raw political control of the reapportionment process was also felt in 1947.  And in that year, Ohioans acted decisively to amend our Constitution to take partisan domination out of the process of drawing legislative maps.  In its place, the voters adopted a recipe that requires that certain steps be taken in a specified order, intending to stop the gerrymandering that Ohio witnessed last year.”

Three members of the Court essentially stated that the Court was abandoning its responsibility to ensure compliance with the Constitution regardless of political considerations, instead holding that the voters’ recipe could be followed in any order the majority wishes.  Rep. Murray notes, “that is exactly what the republican-controlled apportionment board did last year when they decided to bake the ingredients in the shape partisan domination before first following the rest of the recipe ordered by the voters.”

In contrast, the minority opinion penned by the Court’s longest-serving member, Justice Paul Pfeifer pointed out that the Constitution mandates “the precise succession of chronological steps” and that in deciding the case the way that it did, the Court rendered itself “a rubber stamp” instead of “the guardian of the constitution that it is designed to be.”  Justice Pfeifer also noted that his colleagues’ decision was founded on arguments that “fail the tests of logic and fairness.”

Rep. Murray stated that, “the decision today serves to underscore the fundamental need to reform the process by which legislative districts are created, so that voters pick their legislators instead of legislators picking their voters, not ensuring one party domination of the legislative process contrary to the popular vote.  That is what happened earlier this month when Republicans won an overwhelming number of House seats under their new maps, even though Ohio voters cast more votes in favor of Democratic House candidates.”  Rep. Murray is and will remain a member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission and concluded that, “I look forward to continuing to serving the public in that role, as we look to tackle the systemic problems with Ohio government, chief among them being the way in which legislative maps are drawn.”

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