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MI Supreme Court tosses challenges to state House map drawn by redistricting commission

The Michigan Supreme Court building at night
Wikimedia Commons
The court split 5-2 on the decision, which was issued as an order and not a formal opinion.

The Michigan Supreme Court has tossed out a challenge to the new state House map that was drawn by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The lawsuit claimed the House map gives the advantage to Republicans in too many districts.

It also alleged that ran contrary to the letter and the intent of the 2018 amendment to the state constitution that was supposed to eliminate partisan advantage as a factor in drawing district lines.

The court split 5-2 on the decision, which was issued as an order and not a formal opinion. It was also done without hearing oral arguments.

The brief majority ruling said: “… the court is not persuaded it should grant the requested relief.”

That terse statement was welcome news to the commission. Edward Woods III is the executive director of the commission.

He said the group’s job was to create maps that give Republicans and Democrats a chance to win majorities in the Legislature. But, he said, it’s impossible to make every seat competitive.

“We believe that we have met that standard and the Supreme Court has affirmed it,” he told Michigan Public Radio, “so we are very, very pleased with the decision and fulfilling our mission to draw fair maps with citizen input through Michigan’s new redistricting process.”

And this does seem to settle the controversy—at least for now, said the leader of one of the groups that challenged the House map.

“The League of Women Voters of Michigan is very disappointed in the decision, especially without a hearing,” said LWVM Co-President Christina Schlitt.

“The league plans to watch elections cycles for the results in the state House for evidence of partisan bias.”

This appears to lay to rest challenges in state courts to the commission and its work. There remains a legal challenge filed by Republicans lingering in a federal court.

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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