|DECEMBER 22, 2017. The League of Women Voters of Michigan and 11 individual filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan in federal court in Detroit to end unfair, partisan gerrymandering of Michigan's Congressional, State Senate and State House districts.
"The Michigan League of Women Voters today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of voters throughout Michigan to end the practice of unfair, partisan gerrymandering," said Judy Karandjeff, president of the Michigan League of Women Voters. "Michigan's State House, Senate and Congressional districts are among the worst in the nation when it comes to partisan gerrymandering, and today's lawsuit aims to fix the problem and restore voters' rights to choose who best represents them. For too long, Michigan voters' rights have been harmed as a result of partisan gerrymandering."
The lawsuit was filed against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in federal court, and clearly lays out the problem with partisan gerrymandering in Michigan:
1. Michigan's current electoral maps were drawn in a secretive partisan process with little discussion or debate before being quickly passed through the Legislature.
2. Despite Democrats' regularly winning a majority of the votes in State House, State Senate and Congressional elections, they hold a minority - sometimes a super-minority - of the seats, a direct result of partisan gerrymandering.
3. Objective analysis demonstrates that the current, gerrymandered Michigan districting plans systematically crack and pack Democratic voters.
4. "Ending partisan gerrymandering is critical to preserve our democracy and ensure every vote counts," said Sue Smith, director of the League's Redistricting Program.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the current districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and to ensure that the districts are redrawn
APRIL 25, 2019. A panel of federal district judges ruled in favor of the League of Women Voters of Michigan in their First and Fourteenth Amendment challenges to the state and congressional redistricting plans. "Today is a great victory for the voters of Michigan and for our democracy," said Judy Karandjeff, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. "The state will now draw new district lines before the next federal election, which now will better reflect the makeup of the voters - not the interests of the politicians."
The League went to court over the current district maps, drawn in 2011 after the last census. With today's ruling, Michigan will be required to implement new maps in time for the 2020 election and before the next redistricting cycle in 2021. Covering both state and congressional district maps, this case is the only one of its kind in the country. "We presented evidence showing a clear intent by the state legislature to dilute the power of voters and draw themselves into safe districts," said Mark Brewer, an Attorney at Goodman Acker. "With today's decision, new maps will move the state closer to ensuring voters are picking their representatives, not the other way around."
The League of Women Voters of Michigan, along with 11 individual plaintiffs, was represented by Faegre Baker Daniels and Goodman Acker law firms. "This has been a long battle in court, but we are grateful to this panel of judges for hearing out our case until the end and protecting the most vulnerable voters in Michigan," said Jay Yeager, Senior Counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels.
MAY 24, 2019. The U.S. Supreme Court issued this order in our redistricting case. "The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted, and it is ordered that the order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, case No. 2:17-CV-14148, entered April 25, 2019, is stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of an appeal in this Court or further order of this Court."
JUNE 27, 2019: the U.S. Supreme Court declined to set a standard to rein in partisan gerrymandering. Read the LWVUS press release. As a result, Judy Karandjeff, LWVMIPresident, released the following statement:
"Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision is disappointing and will allow those who rigged Michigan's elections based on partisanship off the hook in federal courts. However, with the new independent redistricting proposal in Michigan that the majority of voters supported in 2018, we look forward to a new system being used in 2021 to draw districts for the next decade.
"The League is very proud of the work done by our League members, expert witnesses and our lawyers in our case and the unanimous victory we had in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The information we discovered about the extent of gerrymandering done in Michigan shows the abuse of power in the process. We look forward to educating voters on the importance of applying for the new redistricting commission.
"The League of Women Voters shined a light on how egregious the gerrymanders in our congressional and legislative districts are and we will continue fighting until every vote counts." Read the Press Release here
OCTOBER 21, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned a ruling which had called for nearly three dozen congressional and legislative districts in Michigan to be redrawn because they unfairly helped one political party. LWVMI President Christina Schlitt stated, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision was expected and is a follow-up to last summer’s decision in the Rucho v. Common Cause case, which stated federal courts didn’t have jurisdiction in partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded it back to the federal district court. The Michigan League of Women Voters continues to support efforts to fully implement the Michigan Redistricting Commission and the voter-approved election reforms that passed in November 2018.”