Michigan To Redraw Legislative Maps Following Lawsuit Alleging Racism

Michigan was recently ordered to redraw its legislative maps following a lawsuit against the state, alleging that the maps were “racist.”

The lawsuit, filed by Black voters in the Great Lakes State, accused state officials of violating Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, citing how legislative maps in Detroit, Michigan, were drawn.

In November 2023, a trial was held concerning the matter. A three-judge panel sided with the Black voters, striking down several districts for being unconstitutional. After an appeal by the voters to the U.S. Supreme Court, the motion to stay was declined, forcing the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw its legislative maps.

The lawsuit alleges that Michigan was trying to disenfranchise Black voters by lowering the percentage of African Americans who can vote in each district. The state was accused of having drawn the maps using race as a factor.

In August 2023, 20 Michigan voters brought the case after a similar one was dismissed in February 2022 for lacking evidence.

In response to the lawsuit, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson wrote, “The district court’s injunction ordering the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw state house districts in time for Michigan’s August 6, 2024, primary election threatens an orderly administration of that election.”

“As Michigan’s chief election officer, the Secretary of State supports a stay of the order to the extent it requires her to implement new district lines in time for that election,” Benson added.

At the time of the case in 2022, the court’s order said the plaintiffs didn’t identify “grounds or legal authority that would allow” the court to “question the Commission’s decision. Not to draw race-based, majority-minority districts.”

The court’s unsigned order came from three Democratic-leaning justices: Bridget McCormack, Megan Cavanagh, and Elizabeth Welch.

Three other justices dissented, accusing the majority of failing “to adequately grapple with the evidence and factual assertions that plaintiffs have put forward.”

“We believe, by contrast, that it is too soon to rule on the merits of this case and that plaintiffs deserve an opportunity to prove their case,” the dissenting judges said. “They deserve their day in court.”