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US Supreme Court Ruling Means No New Michigan Maps For 2020

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MIchigan Congressional district map

UPDATED at 4:00 p.m.: A U-S Supreme Court decision has effectively ended a lawsuit in Michigan that could have resulted in new political district lines for the 20-20 election. A lower federal court had found that Michigan’s lines were unfairly drawn to benefit Republicans.

The US Supreme Court decided a case from other states – but it also impacts Michigan. The majority of the justices said that these types of gerrymandering issues are political questions - and that’s beyond the scope of what federal courts can decide.

As a result, Michigan’s lawsuit is dead.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a real abdication of its role historically to protect citizens’ voices in our democracy," said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Which is a striking conclusion to draw based on the history of the court in protecting citizens voices in our democracy.”

Attorney Charlie Spies represented Republicans in the Michigan lawsuit. He says they’re happy with the decision.

“It’s good news for representative democracy because it makes clear that districting decisions belong with the democratic process and not in the courthouse," said Spies.

A federal court had previously said that the state Legislature needed to redraw dozens of those lines by August. That was because it found that Republicans had unfairly drawn the lines to favor their party.

UPDATED at 1:00 p.m.: Michigan's Republican-led Legislature will not be forced to redraw legislative and congressional districts for the 2020 election following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Thursday that federal courts have no role to play in deciding claims of partisan gerrymandering.

Pending its 5-4 decision, the high court had put on hold an April ruling from a federal court panel that ordered lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to enact new maps by Aug. 1.

The lawsuit suit pertains only to 2020. Michigan voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle the once-a-decade redistricting process after the 2020 census, which will affect the 2022 election and beyond.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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