CLC Continues Fight To Protect Michigan’s Voter-Approved Redistricting Commission

demonstrators holding signs at a rally
Demonstrators outside the Hall of Justice in Lansing, Michigan. Photo by Voters Not Politicians.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has successfully defended Michigan’s voter-approved independent redistricting commission from two legal challenges. This follows historic action taken by the state’s voters to curb the undemocratic practice of partisan gerrymandering.

In 2018, Michigan decided to put voters – not politicians – in charge of drawing state legislative and congressional election maps through a fair and transparent process for drawing political maps. Two courts found that the commission is constitutional, and it is now enshrined in the Michigan Constitution.

While Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has moved forward with the implementation of the commission in preparation for the redistricting process in 2021 following this year’s census data, politicians and special interests have filed an appeal to try a last-minute power grab to keep their ability to gerrymander maps and lock everyday citizens out of the process.

On Dec. 14, 2020, CLC filed a brief on behalf of Voters Not Politicians in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to protect Michigan voters’ right to fair maps. CLC is continuing the fight for Michigan voters and will take the case up to the U.S. Supreme Court if that’s where it goes.

CLC represents Voters Not Politicians, a citizen-led grassroots organization that worked to pass the constitutional amendment. CLC Vice President Paul Smith gave oral arguments before the appeals court and serves as counsel of record in the case.

Passage of the Amendment

On Nov. 6, 2018, 61% (over 2.5 million) of Michigan voters passed Proposal 2, amending the Michigan Constitution to establish an independent commission (IRC). Michigan voters of both major political parties supported the amendment, including voters in 67 of Michigan’s 83 counties. The initiative was spearheaded by Voters Not Politicians.

Details on the Commission

IRCs take the power of redistricting out of the hands of partisan legislators, who have proven that they will use the process to gain power when given the opportunity to do so. IRCs instead give the power to the citizens to choose their representatives and create a more fair and transparent process for redrawing districts.

Michigan’s IRC as approved by the voters will first be in place in the 2020 redistricting cycle. The commission will consist of 13 registered voters, four of whom are Republicans, four of whom are Democrats, and five whom self-identify as unaffiliated with either of the two major political parties.

Elections should be determined by voters, not politicians who draw maps. The process will allow for public input, public hearings, and public access to all the data, documents, and software used by the commission.


Read about how Voters Not Politicians built a grassroots movement to fight back against gerrymandering from the ground up.

Learn more about CLC’s state-based solutions to put the power of citizens behind efforts to combat partisan gerrymandering.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter
Establishing IRCs During COVID-19