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Supreme Court decision could change Ohio's congressional maps

U.S. Supreme Court
J. Scott Applewhite

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is a win for redistricting reform advocates in Ohio and other states.

On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss what the case means with Ohio State University professor and election law expert Steve Huefner.


Remember how the Ohio State legislature repeatedly ignored the Ohio Supreme Court last year and continued to draw unconstitutional legislative maps? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they can't do that, at least as far as congressional elections go.

Republicans in the Ohio legislature and others around the country argued the so-called "independent state legislature theory" allows them to basically do whatever they want when it comes to elections. They point to a provision in the U.S. Constitution that reads the "Times, Places and Manner" for holding congressional elections shall be prescribed by each state's legislature.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision in a gerrymandering case out of North Carolina, said no, state legislatures are still bound by their state's constitution.

The ruling would affect Ohio's congressional districts but not the state-level districts.

Issue 1

We are less than five weeks away from the special statewide election on August 8. The only question on the ballot is Issue 1, a proposed amendment that would make it harder to change the Ohio Constitution.

Future petitioners would have to collect signatures from all Ohio counties, not just half as they do now. Voters would also have to approve future changes by a 60% majority, more than the simple majority that is required now.

The campaign has begun in earnest. Opponents of the amendment have released their first ad, which features a big scary pair of scissors slicing through the Constitution over and over again.

Cleveland.com reports the "vote no" campaign has bought a million dollars worth of ad time on local TV stations for the coming weeks. Experts said that means the ad will air often enough for most Ohioans to see it.

The "vote yes" campaign has not yet released any ads, but they are expected to do so soon.

Snollygoster of the week

State Representatives Mark Johnson and Phil Plummer want to change the name of one of the iconic office buildings in downtown Columbus.

The Vern Riffe State Office Tower is right across the street from the Statehouse. It is 32 stories tall and houses many state government offices, including the working office of the governor.

The building is named after Vern Riffe, a legendary speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives who led the Ohio House for nearly 20 years.

Riffe was a Democrat, and now Republican representatives Johnson and Plummer want to rename the building the Tawnya Salyer Memorial Center. Salyer was a construction worker who died during the building's construction in 1988. Johnson said it is only right to honor the person who gave her life for the building.

The bill would also rename the Riffe Center for the Arts the Joann Davidson Center for the Arts.

State Senator Bill DeMora, a Democrat, has said that he will introduce a bill to rename the Rhodes Office Tower after the four Kent State students who were killed by the National Guard in 1970.

If you have a suggestion for our "Snollygoster of the Week" award, a question or a comment, send them to snollygoster@wosu.org.

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