Appeals court refuses to block Michigan redistricting panel

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to block the creation of a Michigan commission to draw seats in Congress and the Legislature after the 2020 census, denying lawsuits filed by Republicans who say eligibility rules violate their constitutional rights.

A voter-approved 2018 amendment to the state constitution took redistricting out of the hands of state lawmakers and placed it with a 13-member commission whose four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents will be selected at random among applicants. It was a bid to curtail gerrymandering in a state where the GOP has had one of the largest partisan legislative advantages in the country after controlling the once-a-decade process in 2011.

Current and former partisan elected officials, candidates and their family members are among those barred from getting a commission seat — a restriction that was challenged by the Michigan Republican Party, GOP legislators and others. They also said there is no reliable way to verify the panel’s political makeup.

But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 ruling, let stand a lower judge’s decision to not grant a preliminary injunction.

Judge Karen Nelson Moore, in an opinion joined by Judge Ronald Lee Gilman, wrote that the eligibility criteria “are part and parcel of the definition of this Commission, of how it achieves independence from partisan meddling.” Judge Chad A. Readler concurred in the result.


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