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Court Case Tracker

Daunt v. Benson

15 individuals are challenging the eligibility requirements for the state’s citizen redistricting commission under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Last Updated: June 15, 2021
Published: August 13, 2019

Case Back­ground

On July 30, 2019, 15 indi­vidu­als filed a federal lawsuit chal­len­ging the eligib­il­ity require­ments for the state’s inde­pend­ent redis­trict­ing commis­sion under the First and Four­teenth Amend­ments of the U.S. Consti­tu­tion.

The plaintiffs, who each fall into one or more of the eight categor­ies of people excluded by law from serving on the commis­sion, argue that the eligib­il­ity require­ments require them to refrain from consti­tu­tion­ally protec­ted activ­it­ies, in viol­a­tion of their First Amend­ment rights to free speech and asso­ci­ation. Plaintiffs also claim that the eligib­il­ity require­ments viol­ate their rights under the Four­teenth Amend­ment because, among other things, the require­ments deny them an oppor­tun­ity to serve on the commis­sion as a result of their polit­ical activ­ity.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the commis­sion uncon­sti­tu­tional and block the Michigan Secret­ary of State from moving forward with the commis­sioner selec­tion process.

On July 30, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for prelim­in­ary injunc­tion, request­ing the court halt commis­sion-related proceed­ings while litig­a­tion is pending.

On August 28, the court allowed Voters Not Politi­cians, the group that sponsored the proposal to create the inde­pend­ent redis­trict­ing commis­sion, to inter­vene as defend­ants. 

On Septem­ber 11, the court gran­ted Michigan Secret­ary of State Benson’s motion to consol­id­ate the case with Michigan Repub­lican Party v. Benson, another case chal­len­ging the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of the commis­sion.

On Novem­ber 25, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motions for a prelim­in­ary injunc­tion. On Novem­ber 26, the Daunt plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On April 15, 2020, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to deny the motions for prelim­in­ary injunc­tions. On May 13, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a peti­tion with the Sixth Circuit for rehear­ing en banc. On June 18, 2020, the Sixth Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ request for a rehear­ing.

On July 6, 2020, the district court gran­ted the defend­ants’ motions to dismiss the case. On May 27, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judg­ment.

Docu­ments

District Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (first appeal — prelim­in­ary injunc­tion)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (second appeal — motion to dismiss)