Thirty-four of Michigan's congressional and legislative districts need to be re-drawn for the 2020 election, according to three judges who ruled on a gerrymandering case Thursday. And that every challenged district is unconstitutional.
"Today is a great victory for the voters of MI and for our democracy", Judy Karandjeff, president of the League of Women Voters of MI, said in a statement.
The ruling also requires special state Senate elections to be held two years ahead of schedule in 2020, as the panel determined all 10 Senate districts challenged in the lawsuit were unlawfully gerrymandered.
"Today, this Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional", the court in MI said.
A federal court in MI says that the state's Republican-controlled legislature unfairly drew some of Michigan's state legislative and U.S. House district lines and that a divided government will have to come up with new boundaries.
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The suit was filed by the League of Women Voters of MI and Democratic voters who claimed districts were shaped by Republicans to ensure the party's supremacy in the state capitol after the 2010 census. They said constitutional rights were violated when Democratic areas were packed in certain districts or diluted elsewhere.
The Republican-led Senate plans to appeal the ruling. The court says the legislature must pass and the governor must sign into law new maps by August 1; otherwise the court will draw the new maps itself.
"The 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 MI legislature for the entire decade", the ruling stated. The court will draw remedial maps itself if that doesn't happen, or if the new maps fail to address the "constitutional harm" the court found.
The Legislature and governor have to come up with new political lines for the U.S. House, state Senate, and state House districts by August. The ballot measure was approved with more than 60% of the vote and, beginning in 2021, a group of 13 randomly selected MI voters called the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission will become responsible for redistricting.
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