Federal court strikes down several redistricting plans for Michigan

Federal court strikes down several redistricting plans for Michigan

A panel of federal judges in Michigan on Thursday struck down 27 congressional and state districts as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, in a challenge brought by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and several individual voters.

The court held the plans violated the plaintiff’s 14th Amendment equal protection rights and the First Amendment. The suit was brought against Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic Michigan secretary of state.

“Today, this Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” the panel of three judges held. They added that federal courts “must not abdicate their responsibility to protect American voters from this unconstitutional and pernicious practice that undermines our democracy.”

The Supreme Court is considering two other partisan gerrymander cases out of North Carolina and Maryland.

Election law expert Rick Hasen, of the University of California Irvine, said on a blog post that it “seems likely” that the Michigan opinion could be stayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court cases.

He said that the Michigan court based its ruling both on an equal protection and First Amendment theory, “the two main theories the Supreme Court is considering in the pending partisan gerrymandering cases out of North Carolina and Maryland.”

The redistricting plans in Michigan affected by the ruling include those for nine congressional districts, seven state Senate districts, and 11 state House districts.

“The Court concludes that the Enacted Plan was designed with the predominant purpose of advantaging Republicans and discriminating against Democrats,” the judges wrote. “The Court further finds that the Enacted Plan achieved its intended effects because it discriminated against Democratic voters in numerous elections across multiple election cycles. Therefore, the Enacted Plan constitutes a durable partisan gerrymander.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.