Supreme Court temporarily blocks rulings requiring new voting maps for Ohio and Michigan

Lower courts had invalidated the GOP-friendly maps as partisan gerrymandering and ordered them redrawn before the 2020 election.

Activists at the Supreme Court opposed to partisan gerrymandering hold up representations of congressional districts from North Carolina, left, and Maryland, right, as justices hear arguments about the practice of political parties manipulating the boundary of a congressional district to unfairly benefit one party over another on March 26, 2019.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked lower court rulings that invalidated, as partisan gerrymandering, Ohio’s map for congressional districts and Michigan’s maps for congressional and state legislative districts.

The high court's orders put on hold efforts in both states to redraw their electoral maps ahead of the 2020 elections, a remedy ordered by the lower courts.

In the Ohio case, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously earlier this month that the district map drawn up by the Republican-controlled Legislature unconstitutionally discriminated against Democrats. "We are convinced by the evidence that this partisan gerrymander was intentional," the ruling said.

The Michigan ruling in April had found that the votes of Democrats were unconstitutionally diluted.

Ohio lawmakers had been ordered to draw new districts by June 14, and Michigan lawmakers had been ordered to do so by August 1.

The justices did not rule on the merits of the cases in their Friday order. The Supreme Court is currently considering two other gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland. In March, the justices heard challenges to congressional redistricting plans that locked in an advantage for Republicans in North Carolina and that gave an extra seat to Democrats in Maryland.

Decisions in those cases are expected by late June.