With eye on redistricting, Republicans win court majorities in Ohio, N.C.

Ohio’s Supreme Court building in Columbus. Photo credit: Joffre Essley via Creative Commons

Republicans secured the state Supreme Court majorities in North Carolina and Ohio on Tuesday in races that could decide which party controls Congress over the next decade.

The GOP picked up two Democratic-held seats in North Carolina to claim a 5-2 majority. In Ohio, Republicans held on to all three seats to maintain a 4-3 edge. 

The high courts in both states rejected Republican-drawn maps ahead of the 2022 elections. Both states are set to redraw their congressional maps again over the next few years, and holding a state Supreme Court majority could make it easier for GOP lawmakers to craft preferable lines.

The elections could have broad ramifications for state laws, but the Republican State Leadership Committee made clear in statements that redistricting was their top concern.

“Tonight’s result in North Carolina is a resounding rebuke of Eric Holder’s sue until its blue gerrymandering scheme,” RSLC President Dee Duncan said of Holder, the former U.S. attorney general who serves as chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

In North Carolina, Richard Dietz (R) won an open seat and Trey Allen (R) unseated Justice Sam Ervin (D).

In Ohio, Republicans already held the majority on the state Supreme Court. But Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, had sided with the Democratic justices to strike down maps drawn by the Republican-controlled redistricting commission. 

O’Connor was ineligible to run again because of Ohio’s judicial age limit. She will be replaced by Justice Sharon Kennedy (R), who defeated Justice Jennifer Brunner (D). Gov. Mike DeWine (R) can appoint Kennedy’s replacement. 

Justices Pat Fischer (R) and Pat DeWine (R) were re-elected in the other two races.

The RSLC said it invested $2 million on independent expenditures in the Ohio court’s three races through its Judicial Fairness Initiative.