Federal judge rejects Congressional map challenge from Youngstown pastor, activist
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Youngstown pastor and community activist that challenged how Ohio's new congressional map was drawn.
U.S. District Court Judge John Adams has accepted a magistrate’s recommendation to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed in late 2021 by Reverend Kenneth Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church and community activist Helen Youngblood.
The lawsuit, filed against Governor Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and the Ohio Redistricting Commission, claimed those who voted in support of Ohio’s Congressional and State senate plan did not consider how the new map would impact Black voters in Mahoning County.
Citing the Voting Rights Act and constitutional issues, the complaint accused the Redistricting Commission of “wholesale disregard” of their duties to draw legislative districts to consider whether the boundaries adopted deprive Black voters of an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representation of choice.
The suit alleged that by combining Mahoning County with several counties to the south, that traditionally vote Republican, the vote of the Black community would be diluted.
The magistrate’s recommendation accepted by the court found that the complaint filed by Simon and Youngblood failed to provide sufficient facts to establish a cause of action by the court.
The magistrate’s recommendation also suggested that there is no need to submit the matter to a three-judge panel for consideration as suggested by Simon and Youngblood, stating that “it would not be inconsistent with the findings set forth herein for the Court to further conclude that Plaintiffs’ three constitutional claims – in the Second, Third, and Fourth Claims for Relief – are ‘wholly insubstantial and frivolous’”
Ohio’s congressional district maps, which have been the subject of multiple legal actions since 2021, continue to be argued in the courts.