The advocacy group Voters Not Politicians recently filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit aimed at dismantling Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Fifteen individuals filed a federal lawsuit on July 30, claiming that the eligibility requirements for the commission violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Partisan officeholders and candidates, as well as their employees, some relatives and lobbyists are all prohibited from serving on the commission.
The proposal to create the commission was passed during the 2018 midterm elections. It was designed to remove legislators from the redistricting process and prevent gerrymandering.
The plaintiffs, who do not meet the eligibility standards, are asking the court to declare the commission unconstitutional and block its creation.
Voters Not Politicians filed a motion on August 12 to act as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was originally filed against Jocelyn Benson in her official capacity as Michigan Secretary of State.
“Voters made it loud and clear that they support a fair, impartial and transparent redistricting process to ensure that voters choose their politicians – not the other way around,” said Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians, in a statement. “This lawsuit is the latest attempt by the same politicians and special interests who tried to keep the redistricting reform amendment off the ballot, to undermine the voice of voters.”
The original proposal to create the commission passed with 61 percent of the vote, according to a statement from Voters Not Politicians.
The commission is currently in the early stages of creation and is in a period of public comment about the amendment language and eligibility guidelines. Applications to be a part of the commission will be randomly mailed to Michigan registered voters by January 1, 2020. The Secretary of State must mail at least 10,000 applications.
Scott Walker, the National Republican Redistricting Trust Finance Chairman and former Wisconsin governor, voiced support for the lawsuit against the Secretary of State.
“Any reform, no matter how poorly conceived, must achieve its goals without infringing on the basic rights guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution. Michigan’s new redistricting commission falls short of that standard by punishing the people of Michigan for exercising those rights – or for being related to someone who has,” Walker said in a statement. “No American should be barred from holding a government position because they, or someone they are related to, exercised their Constitutional rights.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “Voters Not Politicians Rally” by Voters Not Politicians.