2nd Republican suit filed to stop new redistricting panel

A protestor demonstrates during a Dec. 12, 2018, rally in the Capitol | Ken Coleman

The Michigan Republican Party has followed other leading Michigan Republicans and filed suit against Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

The suit, filed Thursday in a Grand Rapids federal court, pertains to GOP opposition to a 2018 voter-approved independent redistricting commission that would have the authority to redraw political maps in the state, a task previously done by the Legislature and signed off on by the governor.

GOP sues to block redistricting commission

Similar to the lawsuit filed last month, the state GOP argues that the redistricting commission established by Proposal 2 would potentially block people from being able to serve on the committee because they have elected family members.

“Michigan’s new redistricting committee, as interpreted by … Benson, will unfairly violate basic constitutional rights and the ability of political parties to choose their own representatives,” Republican Party Chair Laura Cox said in a statement.

The lawsuit states that the “plaintiffs are not necessarily opposed to the general concept of a redistricting commission, but they vehemently oppose any commission that is structured in a manner that violates their civil rights.”

Jocelyn Benson in Detroit, April 11, 2019 | Ken Coleman

The proposal, spearheaded by the group Voters Not Politicians, was approved last November by 61% of voters. Seven other states have independent redistricting commissions.

“The Secretary of State will remain focused on honoring and respecting the will of the voters, who last November made a clear statement that they want an independent, citizen-led commission – not partisan politicians – drawing Michigan’s districts,” Benson spokesman Shawn Starkey said in an emailed statement.

Similarly, Attorney General Dana Nessel defended the legality of the commission, which is scheduled to be in place for the post-2020 redistricting.

“Our position on this matter has not changed,” Nessel said in a statement. “Our office will continue to vigorously defend Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the legality of the redistricting commission, preserving the will of the people and their right to adopt amendments to Michigan’s Constitution at the polls.”

Nick Manes
Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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