Michigan Supreme Court UPHOLDS New Congressional Map After Democrat Challenge

The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld the state’s new congressional redistricting map against a challenge from Democrat activists and Detroit lawmakers. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, the state’s high court dismissed a lawsuit against Michigan’s redistricting commission which argued the new map didn’t have enough majority-black congressional and state legislative districts.

Because the redistricting commission eliminated majority-black districts which included Detroit, the suit alleged, they had violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“That federal law prohibits voting districts that deny voters belonging to protected racial minorities an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates,” the Free Press noted.

However, the court’s majority ruled those who brought the suit didn’t show sufficient proof there was a reason to maintain the same number of majority-black districts.

The plaintiffs, the majority said in the ruling, “argue that the mere absence of an equivalent number of race-based, majority-minority districts in the adopted plans as compared to Michigan’s existing congressional and state legislative districts violates the [Voting Rights Act].

“But that is not the measure of vote dilution under the [Voting Rights Act]. Vote dilution exists when ‘members of a minority group have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.’”

The majority said the commission looked at voting patterns in Michigan counties with sizable black populations, including Genesee, Oakland, Saginaw and Wayne counties.

The analysis showed white voters there didn’t vote against candidates preferred by black voters.

The ruling went on to note that “if the Commission had intentionally created majority-minority districts without ‘sufficient justification,’ it would have easily invited a potentially meritorious challenge as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.”

Nabih Ayad, a lawyer for the left-leaning groups challenging the new maps, told the court “it’s going to take a miracle” for candidates preferred by black voters to win in the new districts.

However, Katherine McKnight, a lawyer for the redistricting commission, said the groups suing the commission hadn’t submitted sufficient evidence there needed to be a higher share of black voters in the new districts under the Voting Rights Act.

“The great hope of the Voting Rights Act is that there will come a day when it is no longer necessary to draw majority-minority districts in order for minority communities to elect their candidates of choice and Michigan is seeing that progress already,” McKnight told the court.

The new map faces other lawsuits, including one from Republicans which takes issue with the population differences between districts and another from activist groups which claims the districts for the state House of Representatives unfairly advantage the GOP.