On Thursday, a panel of three federal judges in Michigan became the latest court to strike down a legislative map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
The map, drawn by the state’s GOP legislature, was challenged by Democratic voters and the League of Women Voters of Michigan. The ruling comes as the Supreme Court weighs two other partisan gerrymandering cases, from North Carolina and Maryland, that it heard earlier this year but has not yet decided.
“Today, this Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” the court in Michigan said.
The panel found that the voters’ rights under the Constitution’s First and 14th Amendment had been violated because districts were “intentionally drawn to ensure a particular partisan outcome in each district.”
The challenge targeted 34 total state Senate, state House and U.S. congressional districts.
The case featured evidence — including emails between the GOP staffers in charge of drawing the maps – that was notable for how explicitly the partisan intent was spelled out. In one email, a staffer bragged that a map was “a glorious way that makes it easier to cram ALL of the Dem garbage in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb counties into only four districts.”
Another staffer cheered that a map that the Michigan Republicans were drawing was “perfect” because “it’s giving the finger to [S]andy [L]evin,” referring to a Democratic U.S. House member in the state.
The lead-up to the trial earlier this year was particularly messy, after a Democrat was elected Michigan secretary of state in 2018 and tried to settle the case. The Republican defendants convinced the court to block her from doing so, but they also lost their request that the trial be delayed until after the Supreme Court handed down its decisions in the partisan gerrymandering cases it’s considering.
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