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Oakland County Democrats sue Governor over re-districting rules

Democrats in Oakland County are suing Governor Snyder over a new law that gives county commissioners the power to draw their own districts.

Historically, a group of five county officials created the map. During the most recent process, Democrats dominated the group for the first time in recent history.

The new law would let the Republican-dominated County Commission re-do the process. Infuriated Democrats say the change, which applies only to Oakland County, is an unprecedented power grab.

Frank Houston, chair of the Oakland County Democrats and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says the change was also unconstitutional.

“If there’s anything dealing with a local form of government, and only one government in the state, it requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature," Houston says. "It didn’t get it, and it’s obviously a Lansing overstep...so it’s out of line, and it’s unconstitutional.”

Houston says retroactively changing the map, which was upheld in the Michigan Court of Appeals, amounts to an assault on democracy.

 “And I think the court of public opinion also rejects the partisan oversteps of either party, when they seek to undo redistricting laws and court decisions after they’ve happened,” he adds.

Republicans call the law a cost-saving measure because it reduces the number of county commissioners.

Longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson responded with a statement:

“The Democrats want to overturn the will of the people so they can maintain a larger, more costly government in Oakland County. A majority of the representatives of the people of the State of Michigan voted in favor of the bill to reduce the number of Oakland County commissioners which was signed into law by our duly-elected governor.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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