A three-judge federal panel on Friday rejected a request from the state of Ohio to delay a gerrymandering lawsuit that aims to put a new Ohio congressional district map in place in time for the 2020 election. The state wanted to delay the trial, scheduled to start March 4, until after rulings are released this summer in two gerrymandering cases before the U.S. Supreme Court – one brought by Republicans in Maryland and one brought by Democrats in North Carolina. But the judges in their Friday ruling cited time considerations. The state has said any changes to a map must be in place by Sept. 20, 2019, to get ready for the 2020 election.
“Given these tight time constraints, a stay could pose a potentially severe hardship for the Plaintiffs (and Ohio voters generally) — that is, an unremedied constitutional violation,” the ruling said. “Moreover, the litigants and voters would benefit from a timely resolution of this trial, no matter the outcome, because as the September deadline approaches, the risk of confusion and uncertainty increases.”
The trial could last two weeks. Either party would have the option to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, taking up more time.
The lawsuit was filed in May 2018 on behalf of the Ohio League of Women Voters and others. The state of Ohio is arguing to keep things as they are.