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Michigan Republicans Ask Court To Allow Them To Keep Gerrymandering

Tim Evanson/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is backing a group that hopes to quash a gerrymandering reform ballot initiative.

A Michigan business group is working overtime trying to keep a ballot initiative from reaching the people in November, asking the state’s Supreme Court to block a people’s vote on gerrymandering reform.

According to TPM, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC) – a group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce – filed a request for immediate consideration before the state’s highest court after its complaint was shot down as “without merit” last week by the Court of Appeals.

The reform measure would take map-drawing responsibilities for congressional and state legislative districts away from the state legislature, which for twenty years has been controlled by Republicans. That has consistently allowed the GOP, which opposes the reform initiative, to win many more seats than its vote share deserves. For instance, in 2012, the GOP won just 45.6 percent of the vote in congressional races, but came away with 9 out of 4 seats.

Maps would instead be drawn by a citizens’ commission composed of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents randomly selected by the secretary of state. They would have to follow “accepted measures of partisan fairness” and avoid granting any one political party “disproportionate advantage.”

It remains unclear how the Supreme Court, which is loaded five to two in favor of Republicans, will respond.

TPM noted that two of the conservative judges – Kurtis Wilder and Elizabeth Clement – are up for reelection this year and have a cozy relationship with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which contributed $15,000 to each of their campaigns.

The two also held a join fundraiser at the organization’s headquarters earlier this year.

“Our legal team will be vigorously opposing the latest effort by pro-gerrymandering groups to prevent the Voters Not Politicians proposal from appearing on the November ballot,” Voters Not Politicians executive director Katie Fahey said in a statement. “More than 400,000 registered voters signed petitions supporting a constitutional amendment to establish a fair, independent and transparent citizens redistricting commission to draw district boundaries without political or partisan bias. They deserve to have their voices heard.”

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