Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Metro Detroit lawmakers to sue redistricting commission to stop maps that eradicate Black districts

Posted By on Tue, Jan 4, 2022 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge State Sen. Adam Hollier speaks during a rally in Detroit for new district maps. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • State Sen. Adam Hollier speaks during a rally in Detroit for new district maps.

Former and current state lawmakers from metro Detroit plan to file a lawsuit against Michigan’s redistricting commission, arguing it violated the federal Voting Rights Act by eliminating every predominately Black-district.

The suit, which will be filed with the Michigan Supreme Court, seeks to invalidate the new districts for the state house, state Senate and Congress.

The group plans to ask the court to order the commission to redraw the maps.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted the maps last week.

“We could potentially have people representing our community that don’t have the committeemen to our city,” former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said in a news conference Monday. “We’re here today saying that Detroit deserves to have Black leadership.”

The lawsuit is supported by Reps. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit; Mary Cavanagh, D-Redford Township; Helena Scott, D-Detroit; Reps. Tenisha Yancey, D-Harper Woods; and Stephanie Young, D-Detroit; Sen. Betty Jean Alexander, D-Detroit; and former lawmakers Teola P. Hunter; and Gay-Dagnogo.

Without majority Black districts, the group argues, voters will be disenfranchised in cities such as Detroit, Southfield, Taylor, Inkster, Redford, Hamtramck, Saginaw, and Flint, he said.

The Voting Rights Act requires equal opportunity for minority voters to elect representatives of their choice.

Opponents of the new districts argue that Michigan voters tend to vote for people who look like them, so fewer Black lawmakers would be elected under the new boundaries that are all majority white.

In December, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights said the maps violated the Voting Rights Act because they “dilute minority voting strength.”

“It is deeply concerning that a public body in 2021, despite overwhelming input from experts, academics, and the citizens who will be directly impacted by their decisions, endorsed maps that do not meet this vital legal and ethical test,” John E. Johnson, Jr., executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said. “The Commission will review this outcome and consider what next steps it will take.”

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