WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Michigan Supreme Court denied a request to extend the deadlines for Michigan to redraw its state legislative and congressional maps due to the delay in U.S. census data. The petition for relief was filed in April by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, a group of 13 citizens of the state that will control the redistricting process, after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the U.S. Census Bureau’s collection and release of decennial census data.
Census data is not expected to be released until Sept. 30, 2021 — 13 days after Michigan’s new maps are supposed to be available for public comment, and only a month before the final vote on the maps scheduled for Nov. 1, 2021. The petition, predicting legal challenges over this delay, asked the court to grant the secretary of state and commission 72 days from receiving the new census data to come up with new, fair maps, plus another 45 days to open the maps to public comment. This would have set the final vote on the maps in the Michigan Legislature for Jan. 25, 2022. The state Supreme Court declined to grant the extension, finding that it would be premature to grant relief ahead of the actual deadline. The order noted that the court’s unanimous ruling was “not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues,” but only a finding that “the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”