© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Michigan Republicans Sue To Block Redistricting Commission

Michigan Capital
State capitol in downtown Lansing.

Republican opponents of Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission are back in court.

Last November, voters said “yes” to a measure that created the Michigan Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw Michigan’s political district lines.

It was a long battle to even get on the ballot – ending when the Michigan Supreme Court said the measure had to be put in front of voters.

Now Republican lawmakers and activists have filed another lawsuit. They say the commission is unconstitutional. That’s because people with political ties – like paid employees of elected officials and family members of registered lobbyists - can’t serve on the commission.

“It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, what party you affiliate with, just categorically, large swaths of Michiganders are going to be removed from the system,” said John Bursch, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

But supporters of the commission said this is a last-ditch effort by Republicans to keep power they would lose if the commission is implemented. Jamie Lyons-Eddy is with Voters Not Politicians, the group behind the ballot proposal that became law. She said she’s not surprised by the move.

“We know that some politicians who will lose power to draw that maps in secret are trying to make one last ditch effort to have politicians and lobbyist retain control of the maps,” said Lyons-Eddy.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement, “My office will stay focused on engaging the public and encouraging full participation in a transparent application and random selection process for this commission, which has the opportunity to map Michigan’s future.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Twitter that her office will “VIGOROUSLY” defend the legality of the commission.

UPDATED at 1:20 p.m.:

Michigan Republicans have sued to block the creation of a redistricting commission, contending people would be unconstitutionally prohibited from serving on the panel.

Voters last fall approved a constitutional amendment to have the commission draw congressional and legislative districts instead of the Legislature starting in 2021 — a bid to curtail partisan gerrymandering.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges provisions that bar commissioners from being a candidate for partisan federal, state or local office in the last six years. Others excluded from serving include state employees, lobbyists and political consultants.

Among the plaintiffs are a Republican state senator and party officials. They say the eligibility standards violate their First Amendment rights.

Voters Not Politicians, which spearheaded the redistricting change, says it's no surprise politicians "want to undermine the voice of voters."

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.
Related Content
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!