Michigan Supreme Court rules that redistricting proposal can appear on ballot

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A measure seeking to establish an independent commission to draw Michigan’s congressional districts will be allowed to appear on the ballot in November, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The group Voters Not Politicians gathered nearly 400,000 signatures in an effort to get the proposal on the ballot, and the petition was certified by Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers last month. 

But opponents of the measure, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, argued that it was too broad a proposal to be placed on the ballot and would require the state to hold a new constitutional convention.


The court rejected that argument, however, saying that the “proposal would leave the form and structure of the government essentially as it was envisioned in the 1963 Constitution.”

If approved by voters in November, the measure would create an independent commission made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents selected by Michigan’s secretary of state.

That panel would be responsible for redrawing the state’s congressional districts every 10 years. The goal, advocates say, is to end alleged partisan gerrymandering by state lawmakers, who are currently tasked with redistricting.

Under the state’s current rules, the party in power in the state legislature gets to decide congressional boundaries.

Republicans in the state legislature who redrew the map in 2011 have said that the boundaries were not drawn with political bias. But emails revealed by The Detroit News recently suggest that some Republicans sought to give their party an advantage in redistricting.

In one of the emails from 2011, Jack Daly, the chief of staff for former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), suggested that lines should be redrawn to “cram ALL of the Dem garbage” into four districts.

Currently, nine members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are Republicans and four are Democrats, with one seat open. That seat was previously held by former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who resigned last year.

Tags John Conyers Michigan Michigan Supreme Court Redistricting

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