Also: Ohio Redistricting Commission fails to draw new maps ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
Brennan Center
The State of Play
Forty of the forty-four states with more than one congressional district have finalized new congressional maps as of May 9. Only Missouri and New Hampshire have yet to pass maps, while maps in New York and Kansas have been ordered redrawn by courts (an appeal is pending in Kansas). Meanwhile, only Alaska, Montana, New York, and Ohio have yet to finalize new legislative maps.
The Brennan Center has two trackers you can use to keep up with the redistricting cycle: Our Redistricting Map Tracker contains links to all of the newly passed maps, while our Redistricting Litigation Roundup outlines the legal cases pending over new plans.
All told, 68 cases around the country have challenged newly passed congressional or legislative maps as racially discriminatory or partisan gerrymanders — or both.
Featured Story: A Win for Fair Voting Maps in New York
In a landmark ruling, the New York Court of Appeals struck down congressional and state senate maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled legislature, ordering a special master appointed by a district court judge to redraw the maps by May 20 and delaying those primary elections to August 23.
The court’s 4–3 majority opinion said that members of the legislature violated redistricting reforms that were overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2014: “the enactment of the congressional and senate maps by the legislature was procedurally unconstitutional, and the congressional map is also substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
The Brennan Center’s Michael Li hailed the ruling as “a major victory for fair maps” and yet another instance of state courts stepping in to curb partisan gerrymandering this cycle. “When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that partisan gerrymandering claims were beyond the reach of federal courts, many despaired that the Court was opening the door to unchecked abuses,” he wrote. “To be sure, state courts are unlikely to be a complete panacea for gerrymandering, so federal and state-level reforms remain critical. But in the growing string of state court victories, the fight for fair maps is showing unexpected vigor and American voters are the winner.”
The court’s opinion did not rule on state assembly maps, but one voter has already filed a legal challenge to that plan as well.
Democrats quickly turned to federal court, asking the Southern District of New York to allow the state to use the invalidated congressional plan for the 2022 midterms, saying that a 2012 injunction in an earlier federal case requires that New York hold its congressional primary on June 28. Judge Lewis Kaplan was not persuaded by these arguments and denied a temporary restraining order that would have forced a June primary. The New York Board of Elections has since requested that a separate federal court in Albany modify the earlier order to allow for an August primary.
Featured Story: Ohio Redistricting Commission Fails to Draw New Maps, Recycles Unconstitutional Plan
Rather than draw a fair map, Ohio’s Republican-dominated redistricting commission has doubled down on trying to implement an map already found by courts to be unconstitutional.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission was given a May 6 deadline to submit a fifth set of legislative maps after the state supreme court found that its four previous iterations violated the state constitution’s partisan fairness provisions. Instead, a majority of the commission’s Republican members, including two new members who replaced the senate president and house speaker just days before the deadline, voted to approve the third set of plans that the court already threw out in March. The plaintiffs challenging the maps have already filed objections to the plans amid renewed calls for the court to find the members of the commission in contempt for failing to follow their order to pass new, constitutional maps.
A federal court ruled that the third set of maps would be used if the commission could not pass new maps by May 28. Yurij Rudensky, senior counsel at the Brennan Center, previously underscored why this would undermine voter confidence: “It’s long past time for the commission to respect the requirements of the Ohio Constitution and draw lawful maps. Allowing a federal court to dictate the outcome by implementing unconstitutional maps would violate the commis-sion’s constitutional duty and the trust of Ohioans who overwhelmingly voted to cleanse the process of partisan abuses.”
You can read more about the Brennan Center’s work on redistricting in Ohio here.
Featured Map
A Kansas trial court judge struck down the legislature’s gerrymandered congressional map that favored Republicans. Judge Bill Klapper criticized the way in which Wyandotte County, home to Kansas City and many of the state’s voters of color, was split between two congressional districts in the Ad Astra 2 plan. In his ruling, the judge considered how the map would affect partisan and demographic representation and how the redistricting process was rushed through the legislature, concluding, “These factors together all point to the conclusion that the legislature intended the result it achieved — districts drawn sharply along racial lines.” The Kansas attorney general has announced that his office is appealing the decision.
Redistricting in the News
After Florida’s legislature rushed to pass a congressional map proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that dismantled two plurality-Black congressional districts, voting rights groups and Democratic voters have filed lawsuits in state court arguing the map purposefully dilutes the voting power of Black Floridians and violates the state constitution’s fair district amendment that voters approved in 2010. Before passage of the map, Black lawmakers staged a sit-in on the floor of the state house, chanting “stop the Black attack” in an attempt to delay the proceedings. One Black activist in Jacksonville said, “The governor’s map of shame is anti-Black, racially uninformed, and quite frankly speaking, just plain ol’ racist.”
Black voters in South Carolina scored a major victory with the settlement of a lawsuit contending that redrawn state house district boundaries illegally reduced their political power. As a result, the South Carolina legislature will redraw district lines in five counties to ensure that Black communities have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of choice.
A New Mexico judge has agreed to hear Republicans’ case against the congressional map drawn by the Democratic-led state legislature, though he declined to throw out the maps for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
Analysis from the Texas Tribune found that only a handful of legislative races and one congressional race are expected to be competitive based on the maps passed by the Texas legislature last year. As a result, the real political battles are being waged within party primaries: “Rather than casting a wide net to attract voters, politically polarized legislative bodies produce polarized maps that appeal to small groups of partisans who vote in primary elections, like the ones in March that drew less than 1 in 5 registered voters this year.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to adopt the plan submitted by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), the Wisconsin court reversed course and decided instead to approve the vetoed map drawn by the state legislature. Justice Brian Hagedorn, who originally voted to select the governor’s map, sided with the court’s conservatives this time, saying that the court had simply run out of time to produce a new plan that met the requirements of the U.S. Supreme Court.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed the state’s new senate maps into law, which could cement a 16–8 Republican supermajority in the chamber. Yet Sununu has also been engaged in a standoff with the state legislature over its proposed congressional map, which he says unfairly favors Republicans. If the governor and the legislature cannot come to an agreement on a congressional plan, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case earlier this week, will have jurisdiction over redistricting, and their appointed special master would draw the final maps.
You can find earlier editions of our Redistricting Roundup here.