WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michigan’s legislative maps saw some activity in state and federal courts this week. On Wednesday, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black voters against the state’s new legislative maps. The lawsuit argues that, in drawing new state House and Senate maps, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by depriving Black voters of an adequate number of districts in the Detroit area where they can elect their candidates of choice. The plaintiffs point to the fact that the number of majority-Black state House districts decreased from 10 in the previous map to six in the current map, and the number of majority-Black state Senate districts went from two to zero. The lawsuit also alleges that, by intentionally lowering the percentage of Black voters in these districts without a justified interest, the commission used race as the predominant factor in drawing legislative districts and therefore the maps are racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit asks the court to block the current maps and order the creation of new maps.
This morning, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the new state House map brought in League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The plaintiffs — the League of Women Voters of Michigan, a coalition of voting and civil rights advocates and voters — had sued over the map’s alleged partisan lean in favor of Republicans, arguing that the districts violated the Michigan Constitution. The court denied the plaintiffs’ request to block the map, holding that it “is not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” This lawsuit raised different allegations than the federal one filed last night, so this decision will not have any effect on the federal court proceedings.