The Michigan GOP is making a final attempt to stop the state from implementing an independent redistricting commission that voters overwhelmingly approved in the 2018 election.
This time around, the state’s Republican party is suing to stop the commission. The effort joins a previous lawsuit filed last month by Fair Lines America Foundation, which is affiliated with former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Both groups are working feverishly to ensure that the Michigan GOP retains its hold on power no matter what.
In 2018, 61 percent of Michigan voters said yes to a ballot initiative that addressed the fact the state is one of the most gerrymandered in the country. Previously, Michigan’s state legislature drew districts, which meant that the GOP could keep its illegitimate majority by continuing to draw legislative districts that guaranteed it would win.
Voters approved a measure that created an independent commission comprised of four Republicans, four Democrats, and five independent people. It also barred, for a period of years, people who had been partisan political candidates, lobbyists, and officers of political parties.
To anyone but the GOP, this looks like a sound solution: It takes redistricting away from a partisan body and gives it to a well-formed commission designed to ensure all voices are heard.
However, the Michigan GOP sees this as a violation of their First Amendment rights — specifically, their freedom to associate with who they choose. Their federal complaint says that since political parties can’t pick their own representatives to serve on the panel, it’s a constitutional violation.
Cox gave the Detroit News a rather incoherent explanation for why the GOP opposes a fair and non-partisan redistricting commission. “This also gives the Democrat leadership the ability to knock off our people … that are allegedly Republicans that we haven’t even selected. So it becomes very problematic that we don’t get to have a role in choosing who’s involved”
What Cox seems to be referring to is the procedure by people are chosen to serve on the commission. Anyone who fits the criteria can apply, and they note their political party when they do. Then, there’s a random selection of 60 Republicans, 60 Democrats, and 80 non-affiliated applicants, and Democratic and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers can strike up to five applicants each, for a total of 20. From what’s left, the Michigan secretary of state randomly draws names to get the four Republicans, four Democrats, and five non-affiliated people.
The GOP is mad because applicants can say they’re a member of one of the political parties without having the party verify that. So, they allege, Democrats will designate themselves as Republicans when applying to be on the commission so they can alter the composition of the commission. This ignores that these hypothetical disguised Democrats would have to first make it into the random pool of 60 Republicans chosen from any number of Michigan residents who apply, and that’s a near-impossible task.
Democrats swept every statewide race in Michigan in 2018. The GOP knows the only way they can win in the future is to gerrymander districts so that their minority of votes results in a majority of seats. No wonder they’re so scared.
Published with permission of The American Independent.