Supreme Court Tosses Michigan Gerrymandering Ruling

October 22, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling on Monday that would have forced Michigan Republicans to redraw congressional and state legislative district maps to be fairer to Democrats.

In a one-sentence statement at the top of their Monday order list, the justices said the case will now be remanded to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

As is their custom, the justices didn’t explain the rationale for their decision, but it was expected in the aftermath of the court’s June 27 ruling that federal courts have no role to play when it comes to cases of partisan gerrymandering.

With that ruling, the justices upheld a Republican-drawn congressional map in North Carolina and a Democrat-drawn map in Maryland.

In April, a three-judge district court panel invalidated Michigan’s GOP-drawn maps, striking down nine congressional and 25 state legislative districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

The U.S. Supreme Court put the Michigan case on hold while the justices deliberated over the North Carolina and Maryland cases.

Monday’s order follows a similar decision on Oct. 8, when the justices returned a case to Ohio for further consideration.

In both the Michigan and Ohio cases, it is expected that the challenges will be dismissed on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction following the June Supreme Court ruling.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved the creation of an independent commission to draw the state’s district lines from 2022 onwards. 

Monday’s order does not disturb the outcome of that vote. However, it too is being challenged in a separate lawsuit.

The Michigan case is Chatfield v. League of Women Voters, 19-220.

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