CLC and Voters Not Politicians Respond to Efforts to Sabotage Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
LANSING, Mich. - Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Voters Not Politicians filed briefs in response to the lawsuits brought by politicians and special interests to undermine Michigan’s voter-initiated Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The lawsuits, which were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, were brought by a group of Republican activists led by Tony Daunt, who was the face of the losing opposition campaign last year, and the Michigan Republican Party, which a U.S. District Court found, gerrymandered the state’s district maps to historical proportions during the most recent redistricting cycle to give themselves “a strong, systematic, and durable structural advantage in Michigan's elections."
“Michigan voters in 2018 said loud and clear that they want a say in the way their district lines are drawn,” said Paul Smith, Vice President of the Campaign Legal Center. “We are proud to join Voters Not Politicians in the fight to protect Michigan’s democratically-enacted Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, a reform that will take the political incentives out of the redistricting process. There is unprecedented energy across America behind the movement to take back redistricting power so that voters are choosing their elected officials and not vice versa. When citizens have a chance to take democracy into their own hands, they have consistently supported measures to end partisan gerrymandering.”
“This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by those who benefited the most from gerrymandering Michigan’s maps to sabotage the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that voters put in place,” said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians. “We are confident that the amendment adopted by a supermajority of voters in 2018 will stand.”
Briefs filed today request the court to deny plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would put the brakes on implementation of the commission, and seek to dismiss the case due to the plaintiffs’ failure to present any legally valid claims. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has indicated that her office is prepared to make applications to serve on the commission available to the public later this year.
Voters Not Politicians crafted the amendment language following 33 town hall events in 33 days to collect feedback from voters on the solution they wanted to end partisan gerrymandering. Over 4,000 volunteers collected more than 425,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. Proposal 2 passed with 61% of the vote – over 2.5 million votes – including a majority in 67 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
One brief states: “Plaintiffs’ prayer for relief provides convincing proof that they are not really motivated by a desire to serve on the Commission or aggrieved by their exclusion from eligibility for that service at all – that it is instead their desire to thwart the implementation of the new Commission and prevent its use to accomplish the purpose for which it was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.”