In a new federal lawsuit, Michigan's redistricting commission violated federal regulations by failing to draw Congressional districts with equal population sizes and using "inconsistent and arbitrary" methods to identify communities of interest.
Several Michigan Republicans have filed a lawsuit against the US District Court in the Western District of Michigan, alleging that the final Congressional map approved by the commission late last year failed to meet four of the required criteria: equal population, honoring communities of interest, consideration of county, city, and township boundaries and compactness.
The list of restrictions adopted through state constitution in 2018 puts consideration of county and municipal boundary lines at second to last after several other criteria. But the lawsuit claims that commissioners unnecessarily split up counties, cities, and townships in a manner that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The community of interest requirement and the need to keep counties and townships whole protects an individual's voting rights, and their fundamental First Amendment right to associate with their fellow citizens," the lawsuit states. The adopted map by the Commissioners is arbitrary, inconsistent, and non-neutral, if it violates the Equal Protection Clause.
According to the lawsuit, population divergences between the 13 congressional districts are a violation of the Constitution's one person, one vote.
The Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, in a, found that the commission's Congressional offerings had population deviations greater than what is typically accepted by the courts.
Beau LaFave, a Republican state rep. and Secretary of State candidate, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
In a interview, he said: It's like redistricting line drawing 101. And the people who did not like it were incapable of following the steps.
Seven Michigan residents, including some who are current or former Republican elected officials or are currently working for a political organization, have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and individual members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The suit includes former Republican state Rep. Joseph Graves, Hagar Township Trustee Peter Colovos, former Congress candidate Harry Sawicki, Scio Township resident William Gordon, and Michael Banerian and Cameron Pickford, both employees of the Michigan Freedom Fund.
The commission is being ordered to return to the drawing board by a three-judge panel, and they have submitted an alternative recommendation for a Congressional map for the court to review.
Edward Woods, a spokesperson for the commission in response to the litigators request, said the panel successfully adhered to the seven ranked redistricting procedures set in Michigans constitution.
Members of the Legislature's Detroit caucus are arguing that the state legislative and Congressional maps of the independent panel violated the Voting Rights Act.
The redistricting efforts of the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission are bipartisan racial gerrymandering, which, if implemented, would unlawfully limit the voting power of minority racial groups to elect the candidate of their choice, according to the lawsuit.
In briefs filed with the court this week, attorneys for the commission defended the Voting Rights Act ruling and denied that the voting power of Black residents would be undermined under the maps.
Read MLive's coverage of MLive's new restrictions.
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What they've proposed:
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The process for this time:
Questions legate to legality