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News orgs sue Michigan redistricting commission

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Michigan Hall of Justice.

Three news organizations and the Michigan Press Association are suing the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, and they’re taking their case directly to the state Supreme Court.

The news organizations say the commission is violating transparency requirements in the voter-approved amendment to the Michigan Constitution that created it. They want the state’s highest court to issue an order this month for the commission to release legal memos and a recording of a closed-door meeting.

The commission is drafting new congressional and legislative district maps under an amendment to the Michigan Constitution adopted by voters in 2018. The amendment is an effort to end partisan gerrymandering by having districts created by a commission instead of the Legislature.

The lawsuit seeking the records was filed by Bridge Magazine, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and the Michigan Press Association.

“This is a core part of the democratic process, making these maps,” said Lisa McGraw of the Michigan Press Association. “So, it should be very, very open.”

“The voters created this commission to improve the transparency in the redistricting process, but aren’t really seeing the documents they used to make them and we feel they should.”

A spokesman for the commission did not respond to a request for comment, but the commission has argued it needed private meetings and communications to get candid legal advice on challenges to the commission and its work.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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