GOP Gerrymandering Struck Down By Judge Ahead Of Midterms


The Supreme Court has declined to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the usage of Congressional district lines approved by a recently established independent commission in Michigan, where Republican voters and officials (current and former) proposed an arrangement that would have prioritized city and county boundaries while breaking up cultural groups identified as communities of interest.

“On Nov. 4, the Supreme Court dismissed the Republican plaintiffs’ appeal of the district court’s denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction,” the voting rights organization Democracy Docket reported this week. In proceedings earlier this year, the plaintiffs’ side in the case eventually acknowledged the possibility of another alternative to their initially proposed replacement — a secondary alternative that ostensibly could have preserved some of the communities of interest at issue, but the commission’s plan already kept these communities largely together while keeping the overall divergence from numerical equality in the number of voters per district relatively small — and smaller than other plans the commission could have approved.

“The plaintiffs’ own plan does not preserve those communities of interest or even attempt to; instead it does not apply the community-of-interest criterion at all, apart from the plan’s emphasis on preserving county and municipal lines,” a denial in District Court of the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction observed. A declaration filed in court at a much earlier stage by a member of the commission pointed to specific communities of interest in Michigan’s numerous districts as approved by the commission, and the commission also referenced hundreds of comments from members of the public supporting these identifications of particular communities. “Thus, the overwhelming weight of the record now before us supports the Commission’s judgment that the Chestnut Plan’s slight deviation from perfect equality of population among districts was “necessary to achieve” the Commission’s goal of maintaining its identified communities of interest,” the District Court concluded.

The court also pointed to the constitutional background for the actions of the redistricting board, which was created via an amendment. As for the Supreme Court, the unsigned, publicly available record of the court’s dismissal of the appeal calls it moot. As elsewhere in the country, early voting in Michigan has been underway for some time, with 1.5 million votes already cast among tens of millions around the country.