Among the many political abuses in our system of government, few things rank as high on the brazenness scale as gerrymandering. That’s in large part because redistricting is extremely complex and invites all kinds of tactics that casual voters just can’t be persuaded to evaluate, much less care about.

On Wednesday, though, a particularly brazen attempt by Ohio Republicans to skirt the will of voters was turned aside. It came after an extraordinary acknowledgment of the scheme by Republicans themselves and with an extraordinary prescription from the state’s chief justice, also a Republican.

The whole thing is a case in point when it comes to how this process is exploited and even abused — and often more successfully than in this instance.

The Republican-majority state Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the maps for state House and Senate districts created by the GOP-controlled redistricting commission, sending the panel back to the drawing board.

That it got to this point isn’t hugely surprising. In September, we here at The Fix noted how cynical the Republican-controlled commission’s attempt to force through the maps was. And the GOP has a 4-3 majority on the Supreme Court in Ohio, where justices are partisan, elected officials. But on Wednesday, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a known critic of gerrymandering, joined with the three Democratic justices in striking the maps down.

The crux of the matter was this: Voters in Ohio have passed constitutional amendments in the past decade requiring more fairness in the redistricting process. The maps needed to adhere to the relative statewide preferences of voters.

That was a problem for Republicans, who drew the maps overwhelmingly in their favor a decade ago and had the power to do so again (even through a supposedly less-political commission). So they tried.

But the new amendments posed a problem: How can you draw an overwhelmingly Republican-favoring map when the state constitution requires the districts to be drawn according to statewide vote preferences? Republicans win a lot more than Democrats in Ohio, but they generally get only about 54 percent of the vote.

So they came up with a scheme. They argued that, yes, Republicans win about 54 percent of the statewide vote in Ohio, generally speaking, but they also win the vast majority of statewide elections — 81 percent of them over the past decade. Thus, they argued, it’s valid to draw anywhere between 54 percent and 81 percent of districts favoring Republicans.

That might seem like an oversimplification, but that’s what they said in their official justification for the maps, which attempted to draw more than 64 percent of districts to favor Republicans.

And the thing is, even members of the commission didn’t try to put a good face on that. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said that the 81 percent figure wasn’t, in fact, “any kind of mark that would indicate statewide preferences.” Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) said he didn’t see the justification until a minute before voting on it and called it, in a text message to his chief of staff, “asinine.”

But with the deadline for the maps looming, DeWine and LaRose voted for them, along with Ohio Auditor Keith Faber, who also criticized the maps. The three of them provided the decisive votes on a commission that also featured one appointed member from each party in each chamber.

The state Supreme Court found that the commission “did not attempt to draw a district plan that meets the standard articulated” in the state constitution. It added flatly, “This [81 percent] methodology … does not tell us the ‘statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio.’ ” It also echoed a point we raised in September, which is that in states in which one party wins virtually every statewide election, the justification offered by the commission would seem to validate drawing as much as 100 percent of districts to favor one party.

It pointed to an expert from Harvard University who ran a simulation creating 5,000 potential district maps. Not one of them was as slanted toward Republicans as the map the commission drew.

Perhaps the most remarkable result of the case, though, is what O’Connor added to the overall decision. In a concurring opinion, she offered Ohio voters another course. She suggested they might go further in preventing partisan politicians from attempting something like this again by instituting a more independent commission, which, as she detailed, several other states have done:

I write separately because readers should understand they have the power to again amend the Ohio Constitution to ensure that partisan politics is removed from the drawing of Ohio Senate and House districts that takes place every ten years. ... Having now seen firsthand that the current Ohio Redistricting Commission — comprised of statewide elected officials and partisan legislators — is seemingly unwilling to put aside partisan concerns as directed by the people’s vote, Ohioans may opt to pursue further constitutional amendment to replace the current commission with a truly independent, nonpartisan commission that more effectively distances the redistricting process from partisan politics.

Judicial decisions don’t generally include prescriptions for what legislators or voters might do to remedy the situation the justices are adjudicating. But here was a Republican justice suggesting that what Republican commission members did was egregious enough that voters might rise up against them and deprive those officials of the power to attempt it again.

And even if people can’t pay enough attention to the nitty-gritty of redistricting — though in this case that would seem prudent — that would seem a relatively simple response.