Michigan Supreme Court strikes down lawsuit that claimed GOP bias in state House map

In a 5-2 decision, the court said the lawsuit failed to make a convincing case that the maps didn’t “comply with constitutional requirements”

click to enlarge Michigan State Capitol. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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Michigan State Capitol.

The Michigan Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that argued the newly drawn state House districts give Republicans an unfair advantage.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of voting rights advocates in February, asked the Michigan Supreme Court to order the commission to redraw the maps and make them fairer to Democrats.

In a 5-2 decision, the court said the lawsuit failed to make a convincing case that the maps didn’t “comply with constitutional requirements.”

In her dissent, Judge Elizabeth Welch argued that court did not “engage in a meaningful examination” of the new law’s requirements and “invites a watered-down approach that may ultimately frustrate the intentions of the more than 60% of Michigan voters who supported the prohibition of partisan gerrymandering."

It was the third lawsuit filed against the commission since late December, when the bi-partisan group approved new districts for Congress and the state House and Senate.

The first lawsuit was filed in early January by Black leaders, who argue that the maps are racially discriminatory and violate the Voting Rights Act. The Michigan Supreme Court dismissed that lawsuit.

About two weeks later, seven Michigan Republicans filed a federal lawsuit against the commission, arguing that the congressional maps are “non-neutral,” “arbitrary,” and disregard community boundaries. A court struck down part of the lawsuit.

In the latest lawsuit, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Asian Pacific Islander American Vote Michigan, and Detroit Action, among others, argued that the commission failed to create fair political maps as required by a voter-backed referendum in 2018. The new state House map “effectively tilts State House elections toward Republican control of the Legislature for the next decade,” the suit alleges.

The Michigan Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission drew the new maps in December.

The trio of lawsuits came as political candidates are beginning to file paperwork to run in congressional and legislative districts. They have until April 19 to decide where to run. A last-minute change to the maps would have forced candidates to either move or run in a different district.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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