By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Supreme Court on Thursday evening dismissed black lawmakers’ challenge to the new congressional and legislative maps, saying they showed no reason to question the redistricting commission’s decision. the state to reduce the number of predominantly African-American seats.
In a 4-3 order, the court said the lawsuit failed to show the plans did not comply with federal voting rights law. The majority justices noted that the panel’s expert found significant white cross-voting for black-preferred candidates in the Detroit and Saginaw areas, giving African African voters the opportunity to elect their representatives of choice even if they represent no more than half of the voting age population.
The old maps counted 15 majority black districts at the end of the decade: two in the United States House, two in the state Senate, and 11 in the state House. There are seven under the new plans that will span the next decade, all at the State House.
African American officials and residents, including current and former Democrat lawmakers in Detroit, had continued the work of the 13-member voter-created commission to get mapping out of the hands of politicians. A lawyer on the panel had urged the court to dismiss the challenge, saying the minority community would have greater influence in more districts under the new maps.
“The plaintiffs have not identified any grounds or legal authority that would allow us to question the Commission’s decision not to draw racial majority and minority districts,” Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and the judges Elizabeth Clement, Megan Cavanaugh and Elizabeth Welch.
The minority said the dismissal was premature and “unfair”. She argued the court should have appointed an expert to assess the evidence because the subject – voter dilution – is complex and the complaint went straight to the Supreme Court.
“Procedurally, the majority decision today is completely unprecedented,” wrote Justices Brian Zahra, David Viviano and Richard Bernstein. They said “it does not correspond to any notion of fair play”.
Two other redistricting lawsuits remain pending.
Republicans challenged the U.S. House map in federal court, arguing that it is not compact and that it splits municipal boundaries too much. Several groups challenged the State House lines in the Michigan Supreme Court, saying they were biased toward Republicans and should be redrawn to be fairer to Democrats.
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