Redistricting Court Cases and a Road Trip to DC!
Hello Common Cause Ohio Members:
We’ve moved! It’s just a few blocks away from our old office, but we want to make sure you have our new address. We are close to the Topiary Park. Please feel free to stop by next time you are in the area! We are now located at:
394 E Town St, Suite 209, Columbus, OH 43215.
There’s a lot going on nationally and in Ohio with democracy reforms, and redistricting specifically. Here’s a quick update, and an invitation.
Two Important Redistricting Cases at the US Supreme Court
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two landmark redistricting cases that have the potential to end gerrymandering for good. Rucho v. Common Cause is about gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly which is dominated by the GOP. Lamone v. Benisek is a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. These two cases could potentially set a national precedent on how to draw fair maps. This could add an additional assurance that mapmaking here in Ohio after the 2020 census is fair and impartial.
Road Trip! Common Cause Ohio is organizing a road trip to Washington DC to join a major rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. There are also plans to lobby our Senators on the pro-democracy bill (HR1) that just passed the House. Sign up HERE. More details at the end of this newsletter.
Redistricting Court Case in Ohio
The constitutionality of drawing district lines to manipulate the vote is being challenged back home in Ohio as well with Ohio A. Philip Randolph v. Householder. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and a group of Ohio residents in each of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts filed suit contending that the 2011 congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. ACLU Ohio argues that the 2011 map violates both our First Amendment rights and our Fourth. The trial, which looks juicy, began on March 4 and is scheduled to continue for ten days. The witness list includes political scientists and former U.S. Speaker John Boehner.
Remember how the mapmakers called the hotel room where they drew the new districts “the bunker?” Check out the story of the 2011 gerrymander here.
Listen to a Sound of Ideas program with ACLU of Ohio’s Freda Levenson, Cleveland.com’s Rich Exner, Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer, and former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges about the trial.
As you listen to this program, remember: Nothing justifies the crazy congressional map that was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2011. We deserve to participate in meaningful elections and the districts favor one party or the other and leave us with truly uncompetitive elections. The Voting Rights Act and the creation of one majority-minority district (Congressional District 11) cannot explain why there is a district running along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland. The map precisely entrenches 12 Republican districts and 4 Democratic.
Rucho Road Trip, and In-Person Lobbying for HR1!
This month Common Cause national is planning a major democracy mobilization to support two of our top national priorities: our lawsuit to END partisan gerrymandering, and our comprehensive voting rights & democracy reform package, House Resolution 1, also called the For the People Act.
On March 26th, Common Cause members and redistricting reformers from around the country will rally outside the Supreme Court as they hear oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. We will be joined by redistricting luminaries such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Members of Congress.
For those traveling from outside DC, the plan is to combine the visit to the Supreme Court with direct, in-person lobbying on House Resolution 1 and other pro-democracy reforms. This is an opportunity to talk to our Senators and encourage them to support the important voting rights and democracy reforms in the For the People Act. Sign up here by Friday, March 15.
Road trip schedule:
- 3/25 early morning: Leave Columbus
- 3/25 afternoon: Lobby on Capitol Hill
- 3/25 evening: Hear from Members of Congress about their plans to end gerrymandering, make art and visuals for the rally the next day, and meet redistricting activists from all over the country. Dinner will be provided.
- 3/26 morning: Rally at SCOTUS
- 3/26 afternoon: Return to Columbus
- Please Note: You are of course free to make your own plans to arrive earlier or stay later!
Common Cause Ohio is planning our road trip now. We will have limited space in a van leaving from Columbus (first-come-first-served) and would like to coordinate with others traveling on their own. We will also be able to help pay for hostel-style accommodations for those who want it. If you are interested in joining us, please fill out this form by Friday, March 15!
The next few months could be a history-making moment for our democracy — if we gather together to take action.
Thanks for all you do!
Catherine Turcer & Mia Lewis