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Court Finds Districts In Michigan Were Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered to Favor Republicans

Court Finds Districts In Michigan Were Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered to Favor Republicans

A federal court ruled unanimously on Thursday that Michigan’s gerrymandered districts were unconstitutionally drawn to favor the Republican Party in a way that gave them an unfair partisan advantage.

Photo credit: Dwight Burdette

In a lawsuit brought about by the League of Women Voters of Michigan, the United States District Court ruled 3-0 in favor of their arguments — that the “current legislative apportionment plan” for the state of Michigan violated the “Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights and First Amendment free speech and association rights” of voters.

“Today, this Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” the court opinion read.

The ruling by the court found that “political data” was used to “deliberately draw districts that advantaged Republicans and disadvantaged Democrats.”

According to Michael Li, who serves as redistricting and voting counsel at the Brennan Law Center, the court is giving the state of Michigan until August 1 to adopt new congressional and legislative maps that are fairer than the current ones. Even then, the court will have to evaluate the fairness of those maps, Li reported.

The court also will appoint a “special master” to ensure that map-drawing is done in a nonpartisan matter.

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Plaintiffs in the case challenged 34 congressional, state house, and state senate districts it deemed to be unfairly drawn. The court agreed with the League of Women Voters, striking down every district that was brought forward and identified as being problematic by the group, per reporting from Talking Points Memo.

The case has a high likelihood of facing an appeal. The Supreme Court has already heard other arguments in partisan gerrymandering cases, from North Carolina and Maryland, but has yet to rule on them.

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