Advance Notice: Briefs

3rd group sues redistricting panel, says House maps give GOP an unfair advantage 

By: - February 3, 2022 11:59 am

Final state House map approved by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission on Dec. 28, 2021

A group of voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit this week against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC), challenging its Michigan House map for its “partisan fairness.” The plaintiffs said the maps give the upper hand to Republicans.

The plaintiffs in the case include the League of Women Voters of Michigan, American Citizens for Justice, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan, Detroit Action, LGBT Detroit, North Flint Neighborhood Action Council, Rising Voices, as well as various registered Michigan voters.  

The lawsuit was filed with the Michigan Supreme Court and alleges that the commission did not meet their constitutional requirement to produce politically fair maps. 

“When Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 2 in 2018 establishing the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, they spoke loud and clear in their support for partisan fairness,” said Christina Schlitt, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan “Our new maps must be as fair as possible from a partisan perspective because the maps will impact our elections for the next decade.”

The new MICRC of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents was created after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018. They were charged with creating new districts for the state House, state Senate and Congress to go into effect for 2022 and be in place for the next decade. Previously, the Legislature drew new maps and the governor signed off.

A spokesperson for the MICRC did not return a request for comment.

This is the third legal challenge to the maps adopted in December. The first challenge was presented by Black lawmakers and leaders from metro Detroit who said the state legislative and congressional maps are racially discriminatory and violate the Voting Rights Act. The second challenge came from seven Michigan Republicans who claimed that the congressional maps are “non-neutral,” “arbitrary” and dismiss community boundaries.

This is not the first time the League of Women Voters of Michigan has challenged redistricting maps. In 2017, it filed a lawsuit against the previous Republican-drawn congressional and state legislative maps, but their suit was unsuccessful. 

The group presented a potential state House map that was crafted by Promote the Vote to show that the commission could have adopted maps with more partisan fairness. 

The coalition had also organized several town halls and trainings to empower Michigan voters to provide input on how they felt lines should be drawn — input that the coalition says the commission did not act on when drawing the maps. 

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.