The three judge panel says the legislative districts drawn in MI in 2011 were gerrymandered and unconstitutional, and Michigan's Democratic voters have been robbed of their rights ever since.
MI must redraw dozens of congressional and legislative districts for the 2020 election because Republicans configured them to guarantee their political dominance over the last decade by unconstitutionally diluting the power of Democratic voters, federal judges ruled Thursday.
"Today, this Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional", the panel of three judges held.
They say if state legislature can't come up with a plan the Governor can sign by that deadline, then the courts will do it. The court will draw remedial maps itself if that doesn't happen, or if the new maps fail to address the "constitutional harm" the court found.
Republicans vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which could issue a stay pending a decision this summer on two partisan redistricting cases before it.
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In a decision ordered Thursday afternoon, the judges determined that at least 34 district maps must be redrawn by 2020 election.
"A wide breadth of statistical evidence indicates that the enacted plan's partisan bias has proven severe and durable; it has strongly advantaged Republicans and disadvantaged Democrats for eight years and across four separate election cycles".
The suit against the MI U.S. districts was brought by the League of Women Voters.
The three-judge panel ruled that the current map, drawn by Republicans when they held both branches of Congress and the governorship, constitutes unconstitutional gerrymandering. They said Republicans had drawn political district lines to disadvantage Democrats. Michigan's 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are also up for election next year and a majority of them could end up with new boundaries following the new ruling. MI voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle the typically once-a-decade redistricting process after the 2020 census, which will affect the 2022 election and beyond.