CLC Successfully Defends Michigan’s IRC from Legal Challenge

Issues
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Slay the Gerrymander
Lija Hogan (left), Nancy Wang (center) and Kelly Schalter (right) are slaying the gerrymander together. Lija and Kelly drafted the amendment language and collected signatures. Together they served on the board of Voters Not Politicians.

A federal judge has dismissed two lawsuits against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on July 6, 2020, decisively ending the legal attack on the voter-approved constitutional amendment that established the Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Benson can now move forward with preparations for implementing the commission, moving the state one step closer to having fair maps.

Victory for Voters

The amendment puts voters – not politicians – in charge of drawing state Legislative and U.S. Congressional election maps through a fair, impartial, and transparent process, with robust public input.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represents Voters Not Politicians, a citizen-led grassroots organization that worked to pass the constitutional amendment. CLC’s Paul Smith gave oral arguments before the appeals court on March 17, 2020.

Taking partisanship out of drawing electoral maps is critical to advancing the principles of accountability and transparency in government. Voters nationwide are tired of being silenced by special interests, who have exerted their will over the redistricting process for far too long. Now Michigan can turn to the important work of putting their citizen-led commission into action.

Selection Process

The application window to serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission closed on June 1, 2020, with 9,367 voters submitting applications, and an independent firm retained by the Secretary of State’s office randomly selected a group of 200 “semi-finalists” that reflects the geographic and demographic diversity of the state.

The legislative leadership has until August 1 to strike up to 10% of the applications in the semi-finalist pool. Then the independent firm will randomly select from the remaining applications the final 13 commissioners – four who affiliate as Republicans, four who affiliate as Democrats, and five who affiliate with neither major party by September 1.

Background

On Nov. 6, 2018, 61% (over 2.5 million) of Michigan voters passed Proposal 2, amending the Michigan Constitution to establish an IRC. Michigan voters of both major political parties supported the amendment, including voters in 67 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Resources

  • 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.