Two major lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Michigan’s new legislative redistricting commission have been thrown out of court.
The suits – one brought by a group of individuals, and the other brought by the Michigan Republican Party – alleged that the rules excluding those active in partisan politics, and people close to them, were discriminatory.
United States District Judge Janet Neff disagreed, and dismissed both suits without hearing oral arguments.
In her judgement, Neff wrote that there was no violation of free speech rights, and that the state’s need to preclude those with conflicts of interest justified the temporary ban on active partisans. Partisans generally become eligible to serve a few years after their conflicts of interest end.
Neff also rejected the argument that banning active partisans would stifle presentation of their political viewpoints, noting that, of the 13 seats on the commission, four are reserved exclusively for Republicans, and four for Democrats.
The Michigan constitutional amendment that established the redistricting commission was passed overwhelmingly in November of 2018.
In court proceedings last year, emails and other documents from Michigan’s 2011 redistricting showed that the Republicans in power had actively conspired to draw districts to protect their legislative majority.
The new commission will use 2020 census data to draw new district boundaries for the 2022 election.