By JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS – Lawyers in one of three lawsuits against the new Ohio legislative district maps on Monday asked the state’s High Court to appoint a senior commissioner to oversee the disputes.
Voter attorneys represented by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee told the Ohio Supreme Court that special oversight is needed to resolve discovery disputes between three separate legal teams that have sued the Ohio Redistricting Commission.
The lawsuits allege overlaps and separate violations of the Ohio Constitution by the panel, which was forced to pass four-year cards across party lines because majority Republicans failed to come up with an agreement with the two Democrats on the panel. The group’s GOP members defend the Ohio House and Ohio Senate cards as fair and constitutional.
They are expected to continue to offer qualified majorities to Republicans in both chambers, although the state’s partisan split is around 54% Republicans and 46% Democrats.
In their Monday filing, lawyers for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee said they had made good faith efforts to resolve disputes with their fellow lawyers, but that “it is already clear that some disputes are fundamental and will be intractable. “.
Disagreements became apparent after a meeting on Friday, they said. Among the areas in which lawyers disagree is whether members of the redistribution committee can be removed, whether they must answer written questions, and whether third parties can be questioned or asked to produce statements. evidence.
The lawsuits are the first to be brought under amendments to the Ohio Constitution that were overwhelmingly approved by state voters in 2015.
The seven-member high court, made up of four Republicans and three Democrats, has exclusive jurisdiction to resolve redistribution disputes. He set an expedited schedule for the hearing of the three cases, culminating in oral argument on December 8.
The other two lawsuits were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, A. Philip Randolph Institute and individual voters; and by the Ohio Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and the Ohio Environmental Council and individual voters.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine has said he will not recuse himself, although his father, Governor Mike DeWine, is a member of the redistribution panel being sued. Both DeWines are Republicans.