Federal Court Strikes Down Republican Gerrymanders in Michigan

The Michigan GOP intentionally discriminated against Democrats, the judges found.

Demonstrators rally outside the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing on July 18, 2018, in support of an independent redistricting commission.Dale G. Young/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

A federal court unanimously struck down legislative maps drawn by Michigan Republicans on Thursday, finding that they were guilty of “deliberately discriminating against Democratic voters.”

The ruling by a three-judge panel invalidated 34 congressional, state House, and state Senate districts that had been challenged by the League of Women Voters and Democratic plaintiffs as unconstitutional gerrymanders and ordered that they be redrawn before the 2020 election. That could give a big boost to Democrats in Michigan in 2020. In the 2018 election, under the now-invalidated maps, Democratic legislative candidates in Michigan won 52 percent of the statewide vote but picked up only 47 percent of seats in the state House.

Emails from Michigan Republicans who drew the maps, which were released as part of the federal trial, boasted of concentrating “Dem garbage” into as few districts as possible in order to maximize the GOP’s advantage.

The Michigan ruling “joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” the court noted. That includes rulings invalidating Republican-drawn maps in key swing states like Wisconsin and North Carolina The Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to rein in partisan gerrymandering in Maryland and North Carolina, with a decision expected in June.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court does, Michigan’s political districts will be drawn by an independent, citizen-led redistricting commission in 2021, after voters approved a ballot initiative last fall to curb gerrymandering.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate