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Michigan high court hears challenge to redistricting measure

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to a proposed November ballot initiative to change who draws congressional and legislative districts every decade.

The proposal would empower an independent commission to handle redistricting instead of the Legislature, now controlled by Republicans. 

In a special session, the justices asked many questions during 75 minutes of arguments. 

Aaron Lindstrom is the state Solicitor General. He says this type of measure isn’t right for the ballot – instead it would take a constitutional convention.

Justice Richard Bernstein was skeptical of the argument, saying, “Let’s kinda get real here. How are people going to call a constitutional convention? I mean, seriously, I mean are you really equating that to a ballot initiative in terms of a separate vehicle that the voters have? I mean come on.”
Lindstrom says just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s not the right method.

“So it may be hard to do, but the point that it’s hard to do might be consistent with the fact that it’s ending up with a new constitution.”

Supporters of the measure say it’s an appropriate change to the state’s constitution and the people should get a chance to vote on it. Critics say the current process results in partisan gerrymandering that hurts democracy.

A group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce says the constitutional amendment is too broad and proposes a general revision that can only be considered at a constitutional convention. Voters Not Politicians says its proposal addresses a single subject.

The state appeals court ordered the initiative on the ballot. Election officials want a ruling by early August.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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