Michigan GOP challenges independent redistricting panel in federal lawsuit

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Michigan State Capitol. - SHUTTERSTOCK USER DIMITRIY BRYNDIN
  • Shutterstock user Dimitriy Bryndin
  • Michigan State Capitol.

The Michigan Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in an attempt to prevent the formation of a voter-approved redistricting commission to draw congressional and legislative lines.

In the second suit filed in less than a month, the GOP alleges the commissioner selection process violates the party’s basic constitutional rights to choose its own representatives.

The commission would draw new congressional and legislative district boundaries following the 2022 elections, as a way to address partisan gerrymandering.

The commission is designed to include four Democrats, four Republicans, and five members who are not affiliated with either party. The lawsuit states that the amendment, which was approved by 61% of voters in 2018, “intentionally disfavors” the Republican Party by giving it four seats in comparison to the five seats for unaffiliated commission members. Democrats, who also are allotted four seats, have not raised similar objections.

The GOP’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, also indicates that because it does not get to pick its own representatives on the panel, its freedom of association rights are at stake.

Republicans, who were in charge of redistricting in 2011, have a history of opposing recent redistricting efforts. They opposed the ballot proposal for the independent commission in fall 2018; and in July some GOP members sued the state of Michigan, alleging that some partisan ties exclude them from being placed on the commission.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office opposes the claims made in the GOP’s lawsuit.

“Our position on this matter has not changed,” Nessel said in a statement. “Our office will continue to vigorously defend Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the legality of the redistricting commission, preserving the will of the people and their right to adopt amendments to Michigan’s Constitution at the polls.”

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