Victory! Appeals Court Upholds Michigan’s Independent Redistricting Commission

Slay the Gerrymander
Nancy Wang (center), the executive director of Voters Not Politicians, mimes slaying the gerrymander along with Lija Hogan (left), and Kelly Schalter (right). Voters Not Politicians is a grassroots organization that drafted and sponsored the constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission in Michigan.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the state of Michigan’s voter-approved independent redistricting commission (IRC) as constitutional in Daunt v. Benson, allowing it to proceed with public input as the data is collected from the 2020 Census.

The decision is a shot in the arm for the movement to adopt IRCs as a viable solution to gerrymandering across the country. It could still be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represents Voters Not Politicians (VNP), the grassroots group that drafted and sponsored the constitutional amendment to create an IRC.

The issue in the case is whether it is constitutional to make the Michigan Commission a true citizens’ commission, by excluding from consideration people who have had recent involvement in government and political affairs.

The Sixth Circuit has now twice rejected that argument in two separate appeals. The challengers could, like any member of the public, engage in redistricting by taking part in the public hearing process. But they were properly excluded from consideration to join the commission.

It is time for fair maps in Michigan. Today’s decision reaffirms the right of Michiganders to ensure that elections are decided by voters, not politicians. This victory will allow the commission to proceed, allowing the voters’ will to be heard.

Georgia is a Communications Assistant at CLC.