WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, April 1, a panel of three federal judges denied a request to block Michigan’s new congressional map while a lawsuit proceeds, ensuring that the map will be in place for the 2022 election cycle. A group of Republican voters had sued in January over new congressional districts passed by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and sought to block the map for future elections. One of the plaintiffs’ claims — that the map failed to follow “neutral, and traditionally accepted, redistricting criteria,” specifically respecting communities of interest — was previously dismissed by the court for being nonjusticiable (not suitable for courts to decide).
The plaintiffs’ remaining claim is that Michigan’s new congressional map fails to comply with the constitutional principle of one person, one vote because there is population deviation between districts. Specifically, the plaintiffs highlight that the difference between the most and least populous districts is 1,122 people, or a 0.14% deviation. In response to this, the commission argued that this population deviation was necessary in order to maintain communities of interest in line with public comments. The panel accepted the commission’s explanation, holding that “the overwhelming weight of the record now before us supports the Commission’s judgment that the [map’s] slight deviation from perfect equality of population among districts was ‘necessary to achieve’ the Commission’s goal of maintaining its identified communities of interest.” The case will move forward on the merits, though the map will remain in place for the 2022 election cycle.