Big Decision in Michigan Gerrymandering Case

Judges order state to redraw dozens of districts
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 26, 2019 1:58 AM CDT
Michigan Ordered to Redraw Congressional Districts
This 2011 map provided online by the state of Michigan shows Detroit-area congressional districts.   (State of Michigan via AP)

Michigan must redraw dozens of congressional and legislative districts for the 2020 election because Republicans configured them to guarantee their political dominance over the last decade by unconstitutionally diluting the power of Democratic voters, federal judges ruled Thursday. In a 3-0 ruling—which will be appealed—the panel gave the GOP-led Legislature and new Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until Aug. 1 to enact new maps for nine of 14 congressional seats and 25 of 148 legislative districts, the AP reports. The number of newly cast seats would be higher, though, because of the impact on adjacent districts.

The judges also ordered that special state Senate elections be held in 2020, halfway through senators' normal four-year terms. The judges said mapmakers, political consultants, and lawmakers involved in the GOP-controlled 2011 redistricting effort elevated "partisan considerations" at every step. "Their primary goal was to draw maps that advantaged Republicans, disadvantaged Democrats, and ensured that Republicans could enjoy durable majorities in Michigan's congressional delegation and in both chambers of the Michigan legislature for the entire decade," they wrote. The panel said it would draw its own maps if new ones are not submitted or if those that are proposed do not comply with constitutional requirements. The decision is the latest development in a series of lawsuits alleging unconstitutional gerrymandering in a dozen states.

(More Michigan stories.)

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