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Judges say Michigan gerrymandering lawsuit can proceed with challenges to individual districts

Judge's gavel with books
A panel of three judges ruled a Michigan redistricting lawsuit could proceed with one condition.

A panel of three judges ruled on Wednesday a gerrymandering lawsuit raised by members of Michigan’s League of Women Voters and several other Democrats will proceed.

The suit was filed in December against the Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who is the chief election officer of the state. It challenges the congressional and state legislative maps, which the plaintiffs say unfairly benefit Republicans.   

The Secretary of State's office moved to have the case dismissed, saying there were no grounds for a statewide case.

The judges agreed the challengers don't have standing for a statewide case. But they say the case can move forward if someone from each of the 162 districts in the state challenges their individual district’s boundaries.

Mark Brewer, the attorney backing the plaintiffs, says this is because the unfair treatment is

coming from the district itself.

“The plaintiffs are not really injured by the statewide redistricting plans, but they are injured by the gerrymandered districts,” says Brewer. “So that's how we'll proceed.”

Brewer says this doesn’t mean 162 individual cases need to be filed. Since the League of Women Voters has members in each district, Brewer says they have the right plaintiffs — and what he thinks is a strong case.

“Basically, yesterday we regard as a great win for us. The case is going forward, and we're going to trial at which we'll have a chance to present our evidence of the terrible gerrymandering in Michigan.”

A trial is scheduled for February.

The Secretary of State’s office does not yet wish to comment on the ruling.


Maya Goldman is a newsroom intern for Michigan Radio. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, where she studies anthropology and writing. During the school year, Maya also works as a senior news editor and podcast producer for The Michigan Daily.
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