Wilson v. Kasich, No. 2012–0019.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtO'DONNELL
Citation981 N.E.2d 814,134 Ohio St.3d 221
Decision Date27 November 2012
Docket NumberNo. 2012–0019.
PartiesWILSON et al. v. KASICH, Governor, et al.

134 Ohio St.3d 221
981 N.E.2d 814

WILSON et al.
v.
KASICH, Governor, et al.

No. 2012–0019.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Submitted April 24, 2012.
Decided Nov. 27, 2012.


[981 N.E.2d 816]



[Ohio St.3d 221]Syllabus of the Court


1. The Ohio Constitution does not mandate political neutrality in the reapportionment of house and senate districts, but partisan considerations cannot prevail over the nonpartisan requirements set forth in Article XI.

[981 N.E.2d 817]

2. The burden of proof on one challenging the constitutionality of an apportionment plan is to establish that the plan is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable[Ohio St.3d 222]doubt. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that the apportionment board properly performed its duties in a lawful manner. ( State ex rel. Skaggs v. Brunner, 120 Ohio St.3d 506, 2008-Ohio-6333, 900 N.E.2d 982, ¶ 51, and State ex rel. Speeth v. Carney, 163 Ohio St. 159, 186, 126 N.E.2d 449 (1955), applied).

3. When coequal provisions of Article XI of the Ohio Constitution are irreconcilable, the apportionment board has the duty to choose the proper course, and this court will not order it to correct one constitutional violation by committing another. ( Voinovich v. Ferguson, 63 Ohio St.3d 198, 586 N.E.2d 1020 (1992), followed.)

4. The Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 7(D) is coequal with Article XI, Sections 7(A), (B), and (C), and the court will not order the apportionment board to correct a violation of Sections 7(A), (B), and (C) by violating Section 7(D).

Wesp, Barwell, Pierre–Louis, L.L.C., and Lloyd Pierre–Louis; Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A., and Dennis E. Murray Jr., Sandusky; and Perkins Coie, L.L.P., and Marc Erik Elias, Kevin J. Hamilton, Abha Khanna, and Noah Guzzo Purcell, for relators.

Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., John H. Burtch, E. Mark Braden, and Robert J. Tucker, Columbus, for respondents Governor John Kasich, Senate President Thomas E. Niehaus, and Auditor David Yost.


Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Pearl M. Chin, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent Governor John Kasich.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Renata Staff, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent Auditor David Yost.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Sarah Pierce, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent Senate President Thomas E. Niehaus.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Richard N. Coglianese, Michael J. Schuler, and Erin Butcher–Lyden, Assistant Attorneys General, for respondent Secretary of State Jon Husted.

O'DONNELL, J.

{¶ 1} The Ohio Constitution provides for an apportionment board consisting of the “governor, auditor of state, secretary of state, one person chosen by the speaker of the house of representatives and the leader in the senate of the political party of which the speaker is a member, and one person chosen by the legislative leaders in the two houses of the major political party of which the speaker is not a member.” Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 1. It further charges the board with the responsibility to draw the district boundaries, id., and vests the Ohio Supreme Court with “exclusive, original jurisdiction in all cases arising under this Article,” id. at Section 13. Apportionment is “primarily a political and legislative process,” Gaffney v. Cummings, 412 U.S. 735, 749, 93 S.Ct. 2321, 37 L.Ed.2d 298 (1973), and as a result, both courts and scholars have universally agreed that politics cannot be divorced from the process.

{¶ 2} The issue we confront in this original action challenging the decennial apportionment of districts in the General Assembly is whether the plan adopted by the apportionment board complies with the Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Sections 7 and 11. Because relators failed to rebut the presumed constitutionality accorded the 2011 apportionment plan by establishing that the plan is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt, we deny their

[981 N.E.2d 818]

request for declaratory and injunctive relief.

[Ohio St.3d 223]Facts

{¶ 3} The 2011 Ohio Apportionment Board consisted of respondents, Governor John Kasich, Auditor David Yost, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Senate President Thomas Niehuas, who are members of the Republican Party, and House Minority Leader Armond Budish, a member of the Democratic Party. The board has the constitutional authority to apportion the districts for members of the General Assembly. Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 1.

{¶ 4} The board's joint secretaries prepared an apportionment plan and submitted it to the board. On September 28, 2011, the board voted four to one to approve an amended version of that plan, with the four Republican members of the board voting in favor and the lone Democratic member voting in opposition. On September 30, 2011, the board adopted another amendment to the secretaries' plan and approved the final plan with a four-to-zero vote, with respondents all voting in favor of the plan and the sole Democratic board member unable to attend the meeting.

{¶ 5} On January 4, 2012, relators, 36 electors living in various house districts as reapportioned by the Ohio Apportionment Board, filed this action under Article XI against respondents, four members of the apportionment board, but did not designate Armond Budish, the House Minority Leader, as a party. They primarily sought a declaration that the decennial apportionment plan adopted by respondents is invalid under Article XI and the Open Meetings Act and a prohibitory injunction preventing respondents from conducting elections using the state legislative districts set forth in the plan.

{¶ 6} Following the submission of responses, evidence, and briefs pursuant to a court-ordered accelerated schedule, on February 17, 2012, we dismissed relators' open-meetings claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied relators' Article XI claims based on laches insofar as they attempted to challenge the use of the apportionment plan for the 2012 election cycle. Wilson v. Kasich, 131 Ohio St.3d 249, 2012-Ohio-612, 963 N.E.2d 1282, ¶ 8 (O'Donnell, J., dissenting in part) (urging that the court has an obligation to review apportionment matters expeditiously and asserting that a piecemeal resolution permitting electors to vote when the underlying apportionment is under constitutional attack is ill-advised precedent). Relators' remaining Article XI claims are still pending. Id.

{¶ 7} On March 2, 2012, we ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs addressing the following questions and invited them to address any other issues they deemed necessary:

[Ohio St.3d 224]1. Does the Supreme Court of Ohio have jurisdiction over this case when only four of the five members of the apportionment board have been named as respondents and the board has not been named as a party?

2. Does the Ohio Constitution mandate political neutrality in the reapportionment of house and senate districts?

3. What is relators' burden in showing that a reapportionment plan is unconstitutional?

4. Does tension exist among sections 3, 7, and 10 of Article XI of the Ohio Constitution, and if so, how are these sections to be harmonized?

[981 N.E.2d 819]

The parties are further permitted to address any other issues they deem necessary to this court's review in the supplemental briefs.

131 Ohio St.3d 1468, 2012-Ohio-848, 962 N.E.2d 800.


{¶ 8} After the parties filed their supplemental briefs, we denied relators' motion for leave to file an amended complaint to add Budish as a relator, 131 Ohio St.3d 1519, 2012-Ohio-1783, 965 N.E.2d 1002, and held oral argument.

{¶ 9} This cause is now before the court for its consideration of relators' remaining claims.

Legal Analysis
Jurisdiction

{¶ 10} As the parties now agree, neither the apportionment board nor board member Budish is a necessary and indispensable party to this action under Civ.R. 19. We do note, however, that it remains better practice in this type of action to name the board and all its members as parties. The Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 13 specifies that this court “shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction in all cases arising under this Article” and further notes that if any apportionment plan “made by the persons responsible for apportionment, by a majority of their number” is determined to be invalid by either this court or the United States Supreme Court, “the persons responsible for apportionment by a majority of their number” shall determine a new, constitutionally compliant plan; see also Voinovich v. Ferguson, 63 Ohio St.3d 198, 586 N.E.2d 1020 (1992) (court resolved declaratory-judgment action involving the constitutionality of an apportionment plan in which the apportionment board was not one of the named parties), and State ex rel. Lehman v. DiSalle, 173 Ohio St. 361, 182 N.E.2d 564 (1962) (court resolved mandamus action challenging state-senate apportionment plan although board was not named a party).

{¶ 11} Thus, the merits of relators' remaining claims are properly before us.

[Ohio St.3d 225]Political Neutrality

{¶ 12} Pursuant to the Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 1, the five-member apportionment board is responsible for the apportionment of the state for members of the General Assembly. The board must establish the boundaries for each of the 99 house districts and 33 senate districts every ten years. The method of apportionment of the state for members of the General Assembly is determined by using a ratio of representation, which is calculated by dividing the whole population of the state, as determined by the federal decennial census, by 99 for the house and by 33 for the senate. Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Section 2. The population of each house and senate district must be substantially equal to the applicable ratio of representation, and in no event shall any district contain a population of less than 95 percent or more than 105 percent of the pertinent ratio. Ohio Constitution, Article XI, Sections 3 and 4. Each house district is entitled to a single...

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  • League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Comm'n, 2021-1193
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • January 12, 2022
    ...in conformity with the Ohio Constitution. I. BACKGROUND A. Overview of Article XI of the Ohio Constitution {¶ 3} In Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, we rejected a challenge to the 2011 apportionment of General Assembly districts adopted under a former ve......
  • State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., No. 2013–0465.
    • United States
    • Ohio Supreme Court
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    ...and to discern this intent, we read words and phrases in context according to the rules of grammar and common usage." Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 13. But pursuant to R.C. 1.42, "Words and phrases that have acquired a technical or particular meanin......
  • Adams v. DeWine, 2021-1428
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • January 14, 2022
    ...alternative plans that were not presented to the General Assembly prior to its adoption of the enacted plan, citing Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 43-46. But Wilson does not prohibit consideration of alternative plans; it merely cites the fact that t......
  • City of Athens v. Testa, Nos. 18AP-144
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 29, 2019
    ...City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. State Bd. of Edn. , 146 Ohio St.3d 356, 2016-Ohio-2806, 56 N.E.3d 950, ¶ 16 ; Wilson v. Kasich , 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 13. In endeavoring to determine the intent of the drafters, courts first examine the language of the provis......
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21 cases
  • League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Comm'n, 2021-1193
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • January 12, 2022
    ...in conformity with the Ohio Constitution. I. BACKGROUND A. Overview of Article XI of the Ohio Constitution {¶ 3} In Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, we rejected a challenge to the 2011 apportionment of General Assembly districts adopted under a former ve......
  • State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., No. 2013–0465.
    • United States
    • Ohio Supreme Court
    • February 17, 2015
    ...and to discern this intent, we read words and phrases in context according to the rules of grammar and common usage." Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 13. But pursuant to R.C. 1.42, "Words and phrases that have acquired a technical or particular meanin......
  • Adams v. DeWine, 2021-1428
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • January 14, 2022
    ...alternative plans that were not presented to the General Assembly prior to its adoption of the enacted plan, citing Wilson v. Kasich, 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 43-46. But Wilson does not prohibit consideration of alternative plans; it merely cites the fact that t......
  • City of Athens v. Testa, Nos. 18AP-144
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 29, 2019
    ...City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. State Bd. of Edn. , 146 Ohio St.3d 356, 2016-Ohio-2806, 56 N.E.3d 950, ¶ 16 ; Wilson v. Kasich , 134 Ohio St.3d 221, 2012-Ohio-5367, 981 N.E.2d 814, ¶ 13. In endeavoring to determine the intent of the drafters, courts first examine the language of the provis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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