Dispute over district maps will go to trial

DETROIT (AP) — A three-judge panel has cleared the way for a trial that could upset districts in the Michigan Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation.

The panel says Democrats so far have presented sufficient evidence that districts were shaped by Republican operatives to guarantee the GOP’s dominance after the 2010 census, especially in the Legislature. The lawsuit alleges that constitutional rights were violated when Democratic areas were packed in certain districts or spread among many districts to dilute their influence.

In a 43-page decision last Friday, the panel of federal judges says emails exchanged by map makers “illustrate the profound extent to which partisan political considerations” were at play.

The maps were approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder. They’re in effect through the 2020 election.

Voters on Nov. 6 approved a plan to take redistricting away from lawmakers.