Instead of allowing politicians, every ten years, to gerrymander the districts in which they will seek re-election, Ohio’s Issue 2 empowers a 12 member committee of citizens to, every ten years, redraw the lines.
Describing who should be eligible to serve on this important committee and outlining how members should be chosen, is the heart of Issue 2 and the Ohio State Bar Association is urging a “No” vote on Issue 2 because they don’t like how members of the committee will be chosen.
Ted Roberts explains the OSBA opposition to Issue 2 in an article entitled, “How are NFL Referees and Ohio’s Issue 2 Proposal Similar.”
Roberts writes, “I ask you to join me in voting against Issue 2 — a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to have judges involved in the way the state draws legislative and congressional maps. Why? Because the plan has a major flaw: Inserting judges in the process.”
Mr. Roberts argues that having appellate judges involved in the process is like empowering NFL referees to choose which players can participate in a given game. He writes:
“Imagine, NFL referees selecting the Browns or Bengals starting quarterback…. What we have here is a case where those supporting Issue 2 are trying to involve the referees who are supposed to be impartial. While we agree that change should be considered when it comes to Ohio’s redistricting process, Issue 2 is simply the wrong answer. So, let’s do the right thing here. Keep the judges and courts where they belong — interpreting the law, not choosing who plays on the teams and which plays to call. Protect Justice. Vote NO on Issue 2.”
There may be some solid reason why it is not a good idea to involve appellate judges in the process of selecting the 12 person commission, and I sought out Mr. Roberts’ article because I supposed the spokesperson for the Ohio Bar Association would have some carefully reasoned argument explaining why the Bar Association opposes Issue 2. But, instead, I found an argument based on a totally false premise — that the appellate judges are directly choosing each of the twelve members of the commission, and that these same judges will be called upon to referee the work of the commission.
Wow. To hear Mr. Roberts tell it, this panel of judges will be sitting around saying things like, “Hey Fred, I’ll let you choose Luigi in Akron if you give me Sally in Dayton.” No. The actual process is much different that what Mr. Roberts would have us believe.
Issue 2 calls for an eight member panel of appellate judges to be chosen by lot, but with no more than four members of the same political party. These eight judges, in turn, choose 42 candidates, divided into three pools. That’s it. The judges choose 42 candidates and that is the end of their responsibility. Through a carefully thought out process, described in the box at left, 30 of these candidates are eliminated, leaving the final committee of 12.
It is hardly fair or accurate to give the impression that the appellate judges are directly choosing the members of the commission. But more than that, the analogy Roberts offers — that these eight appellate judges are like NFL referees — doesn’t hold, because, according to the Issue 2 plan, these judges will never be called upon to referee or resolve any actions by this 12 member committee. Any need for judicial intervention will be the responsibility of the Ohio Supreme Court, not any of the appellate courts.
If the OSBA wants to argue that the process for choosing these 42 candidates, outlined in Issue 2, if implemented would somehow corrupt or endanger the legal system, then I would like to hear the argument. The OSBA Argument That Issue 2 Is Like NFL Referees Choosing NFL Players Amounts To Pure Misinformation. It is an argument not worthy of the OSBA.