CINCINNATI – Today, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit unanimously upheld a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff to deny an attempt by the Michigan Republican Party and special interests to undermine Michigan’s voter-initiated Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission by delaying its implementation.
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represented Voters Not Politicians in the case to protect the commission, and CLC’s Vice President of the Campaign Legal Center, Paul Smith delivered oral arguments before the appeals court on March 17.
“As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts recently said, voters ‘have the power to decide for themselves how they want their government to be structured.’ In 2018, Michigan voters overwhelmingly voted to take politicians out of redistricting and to establish a citizen-led, fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting process. Over 4,000 applications to serve on Michigan’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission have been processed, and we will continue to do all that we can to get as many people as possible involved in the process to bring fair maps to Michigan,” said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians.
Paul Smith of CLC stated, “We are pleased with the decision today, which places the interests of Michigan voters first. Taking partisanship out of drawing electoral maps is critical to advancing the principle of accountability in government. Michigan voters want fair maps. They will not be silenced by special interests, who continue to try and exert their will over the redistricting process.”
The lawsuits, which were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, were brought by a group of Republican activists and the Michigan Republican Party, which a U.S. District Court determined had gerrymandered the state’s district maps to historical proportions during the most recent redistricting cycle to give themselves “a strong, systematic, and durable structural advantage in Michigan’s elections.”
Plaintiffs’ requests for preliminary injunctions were based on claims that the amendment passed by the voters violated the federal Constitution and that Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if the Court did not immediately halt the Secretary of State’s implementation of the amendment. The Court rejected these arguments, finding that “Plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail on the merits of their constitutional claims” and that they would not suffer any irreparable injuries from the state’s continued efforts to implement the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Applications to serve on Michigan’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will be open through June 1, 2020. So far, the Secretary of State’s office has processed 4,332 applications submitted by voters from nearly every county in the state.
Voters Not Politicians is a grassroots, nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to supporting the successful implementation of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission overwhelmingly supported by Michigan voters and to strengthening democracy by engaging people across Michigan in effective citizen action. Learn more at www.votersnotpoliticians.com.