Advance Notice: Briefs

Gerrymandering suit heads to trial after U.S. Supreme Court nixes delay

By: - February 5, 2019 1:31 am

Proceedings on a federal case challenging how Michigan’s legislative districts are drawn are slated to begin on Tuesday morning in Detroit after Republicans’ last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected.

Sonia Sotomayor

GOP attorneys had argued that the case would be rendered irrelevant because the High Court is set to rule on similar redistricting cases in Maryland and North Carolina.

The U.S. Supreme Court, through Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on Monday denied the request of GOP plaintiffs to halt the hearing, the Detroit News reported.The suit alleges that Republicans gerrymandered districts in the 2011 redistricting process by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder.

As the Advance has extensively reported, there has been an abundance of motions in the last few weeks in the case of League of Women Voters et. al. v. Jocelyn Benson. Benson, a Democrat, became party to the lawsuit when she took office as secretary of state on Jan. 1.

Jocelyn Benson

Benson tried to reach a settlement with plaintiffs in which 11 state House districts would have been redrawn in time for the 2020 election. The next full redistricting process comes after the 2020 census and will be done by a nonpartisan commission as established under Proposal 2 of 2018.

A three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Friday night denied a motion by Benson to settle the lawsuit.

The judges said that Benson lacks the authority to enter into the settlement without the support of the GOP-controlled Legislature. Several Republican legislators have intervened in the case, including state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering).

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.