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Republicans file lawsuit challenging new independent redistricting commission

Michigan's 13th congressional district

Republican opponents of Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission are back in court.

Last November, voters said “yes” to a measure that created the Michigan Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw Michigan’s political district lines.

It was a long battle to even get on the ballot – ending when the Michigan Supreme Court said the measure had to be put in front of voters.

Now Republican lawmakers and activists have filed another lawsuit. They say the commission is unconstitutional. That’s because people with political ties – like paid employees of elected officials and family members of registered lobbyists - can’t serve on the commission.

“It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, what party you affiliate with, just categorically, large swaths of Michiganders are going to be removed from the system,” said John Bursch, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

But supporters of the commission said this is a last-ditch effort by Republicans to keep power they would lose if the commission is implemented. Jamie Lyons-Eddy is with Voters Not Politicians, the group behind the ballot proposal that became law. She said she’s not surprised by the move.

“We know that some politicians who will lose power to draw that maps in secret are trying to make one last ditch effort to have politicians and lobbyist retain control of the maps,” said Lyons-Eddy.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement, “My office will stay focused on engaging the public and encouraging full participation in a transparent application and random selection process for this commission, which has the opportunity to map Michigan’s future.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Twitter that her office will “VIGOROUSLY” defend the legality of the commission.

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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