Michigan GOP aides emails revealed in court case suggest bias in redistricting

Michigan GOP aides emails revealed in court case suggest bias in redistricting
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A Michigan lawsuit uncovered emails from GOP staffers bragging about gerrymandering "Dem garbage" into four congressional districts and accommodating GOP preferences, according to a new report from the Center for Michigan

“In a glorious way that makes it easier to cram ALL of the Dem garbage in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties into only four districts," an aide to former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Jack Daly, allegedly wrote to other GOP consultants in 2011. "Is there anyone on our side who doesn’t recognize that dynamic?” 

Michigan Republicans also predicted maps drawn in 2011 would keep Republicans in power for years to come, reported the Center for Michigan, a nonpartisan think-tank.

The emails emerged as part of a federal lawsuit, brought by the League of Woman Voters and other Democratic groups, that alleges the 2011 congressional maps are gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. GOP aides and consultants allegedly exchanged these emails shortly before releasing the 2011 districts. 

The emails were first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

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Daly also reportedly suggested shifting borders of certain districts in order to put "Dems in a Dem district and Reps in a GOP district" and "increase the black population in the black districts." 

These gerrymandering methods are called "packing" — drawing a congressional district around voters who will all vote one way in order to reduce their power. 

One email from a Michigan Chamber of Commerce executive also implies a congressional district was drawn according to the wishes of former Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), according to the Center.

"We will accommodate whatever Dave wants in his district," Robert LaBrant, who is now a Republican consultant, reportedly wrote in 2011. "We’ve spent a lot of time providing options to ensure we have a solid 9-5 delegation in 2012 and beyond." 

A June study by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan concluded that Michigan is highly gerrymandered and designed to ensure that Republicans hold majorities on the state and local level. Michigan's political gerrymandering is one of the most extreme examples in the nation, studies have found. 

A proposed constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering may be on the Michigan ballot in November, although the Michigan Supreme Court is also hearing arguments on that issue.

The U.S. Supreme Court this spring rejected three court cases about partisan gerrymandering, but activists at the state level have begun pushing back against the practice in Michigan, Missouri, Utah and Colorado, according to The New York Times.