Michigan Republican Party Sues to Block Redistricting Commission

The Michigan Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to¬†challenge what it calls the “unfair and unconstitutional proposed redistricting committee,” according to MIRS news service.

The 25-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court’s Western Division, is the second lawsuit aimed to stop Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from taking any steps to implement constitutional provisions approved in Proposal 2018-2, which was passed by Michigan voters in November. It¬† argues the commissioner selection process violates the GOP’s freedom of association rights by precluding parties from picking their own representatives to serve on the panel.

The previous challenge, Daunt v. Benson (USDC Docket No. 19-00614), argues that the created commission violates the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and must be invalidated. The more than one dozen Republican plaintiffs allege the voter-approved amendment discriminates against participants based on political service or family ties.

“Michigan’s new redistricting committee, as interpreted by Secretary Jocelyn Bensson, will unfairly violate basic constitutional rights and the ability of political parties to choose their representatives,” GOP Chair Laura Cox said in a statement released on Thursday. “This crazy new system will even allow the Democrat party to influence who represents the Republican party on the proposed commission, which on its face violates basic constitutional principles.

“We do not oppose the concept of a fairly designed and implemented redistricting committee, but that is not what this is. Instead this is an assault on the associational rights of political parties.”

Proposal 2018-2 moved redistricting functions from the Legislature and the executive branch to a 13-member commission. Commission members will be chosen at random and include four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents. A majority of each contingent will have to support a redistricting plan for it to take effect. The amendment also bars anyone who served or ran for a partisan post, or members of their families, or an employee of an elected office, a legislative employee, lobbyist or any member of their families from being a commission member.