Welcome to the Voters Not Politicians’s new Weekly Update email series! Every Friday, we will share important updates to keep you informed on the latest news from VNP.
We want to keep these updates efficient and effective, so let’s get right to it:
Last month, a panel of federal judges ruled that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution by spreading out Black Detroiters among numerous districts based on their race, and ordered a redraw of six state senate and seven state house districts.
This week, that same panel ordered the MICRC to produce new maps for the house districts in question by February 2. Simultaneously, the court appointed two special masters: one who will review the commission’s maps for compliance and another who will work on a separate set of maps to be used if the commission’s maps are found to be insufficient.
Also this week, the MICRC filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court, as well as requesting a stay to stop the redraw process.
- On December 21, the federal court ruled that the MICRC’s reliance on race in drawing several Metro Detroit area districts violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. The court did not rule on the question of possible Voting Rights Act violations.
- Next week, the MICRC will begin the mapping process. They must complete, submit, and publish the proposed maps by February 2, at which point the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed maps. The federal court laid out a complete timeline for the mapping process:
- By February 2nd: MICRC must complete, submit, and publicly publish the new house map.
- Feb 3rd – 22nd (implied): Public comment phase; must include at least 1 public hearing in Detroit
- February 23rd: Public comment concludes
- By March 1st: MICRC shall adopt and submit the final House plan
- By March 8th: Plaintiff’s deadline for objections
- By March 15th: Defendant’s deadline to respond to objections
- By March 15th: Reviewing Special Master (Grofman) deadline to submit a report for the court on whether the new maps would satisfy constitutional requirements
- By March 29th: Court approves a remedial house plan
- April 12th: Both parties must submit a proposed timeline for the Senate map redraw
- Michael Barber of Brigham Young University was appointed to draw alternative maps to be used if the MICRC redraw is found insufficient by the court. Both parties in the lawsuit agreed on Barber as a suitable special master, but in 2021, Barber defended a GOP redistricting plan that a Harvard professor found was highly biased in favor of Republicans.
- Bernard Grofman of the University of California Irvine was appointed to review the MICRC redraw, and, possibly, the alternative maps produced by Barber. Grofman is a respected nonpartisan expert who has served as special master for several court-ordered district map redraws, and is currently evaluating map submissions in Wisconsin.
- The Court denied plaintiffs’ request for special elections for the Michigan Senate in 2024.
- The redraw does not affect the two special elections scheduled this spring to replace Representatives Stone and Coleman, who won mayoral elections in November.
- SCOTUS has given the plaintiffs, the group who challenged the maps, until January 17 to file their response to the MICRC’s request for an appeal and an emergency stay.
Keep in Mind
- Voters Not Politicians is fully committed to protecting the independent, transparent, and citizen-led redistricting process that Michigan voters demanded in 2018.
- Nothing in the court’s decision calls into question the process that voters overwhelmingly approved in the Prop 18-2 redistricting amendment.
- The constitutional amendment that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2018 clearly states that only the independent commission shall adopt district maps, including in cases where challenges result in court-ordered remedies.
- The commission must not only preserve the partisan fairness of the previously adopted maps — it must improve on it. The commission has an obligation with these updated district maps to give historically marginalized communities the opportunity to choose their preferred representation and avoid all partisan bias.
- VNP is confident that the commission can overcome recent challenges and come together to complete the redraw. Even with some bumps in the road, this redistricting process is vastly better than the previous system where political operatives drew maps to their own advantage behind closed doors.
Voters Not Politicians is already working to protect the investment of all our volunteers and supporters and prevent politically biased interference in the redrawing process.
We are restarting our MICRC Monitoring Committee to observe and document the upcoming meetings. Prior note-taking experience is a plus, but not required! We will train you. Join this important team by contacting email@example.com.
We will continue to keep you updated on the commission’s work as well as the ongoing legal case, and share more opportunities to get involved with the remapping process. You can also subscribe for updates from the commission at michigan.gov/micrc.
Together, we will ensure the redistricting process remains the fair, impartial, and transparent system that voters intended when they overwhelmingly voted to create Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
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