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Court Case

League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Benson

The League of Women Voters of Michigan filed suit to challenge Michigan’s 2011 state legislative and congressional maps as partisan gerrymanders.

Last Updated: October 25, 2019
Published: June 3, 2019

Case Background

The League of Women Voters of Michigan and eleven Democratic voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court contending that Michigan's 2011 state legislative and congressional maps are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs argue that the legislature unconstitutionally marginalized Democratic constituencies by cracking and packing Democratic voters while efficiently spreading Republican voters across safe Republican districts.

On January 23, Defendant Secretary of State Ruth Johnson filed a motion to dismiss for a lack of standing. On May 16, the court granted the defendant's motion in part and denied it in part, dismissing the plaintiffs' statewide claims but holding that the plaintiffs had standing to bring district-specific claims.

Two sets of intervenors - the Republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and a group of Michigan state legislators - were permitted to intervene after successful appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. On February 1, 2019, the court allowed two additional sets of intervenors - a group of Michigan state senators and the Michigan Senate - to enter the case. 

On February 1, 2019, the court rejected Secretary of State Benson's attempt to settle the case. 

On February 4, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the congressional and legislative intervenors' attempt to stay trial. On March 25, 2019, the Supreme Court also denied the congressional and legislative intervenors' petition for a writ of mandamus. 

Trial took place from February 5 to February 7, 2019. 

On April 25, 2019, the court struck down the challenged districts and ordered the legislature to draw remedial maps for the congressional, state house, and state senate elections. The court also ordered that special elections be held in 2020 for any state senate districts either enjoined by the decision or modified by the remedial plan.

On April 30, 2019, the two sets of intervenors appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 24, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the intervenors' applications to stay the remedial mapdrawing process pending appeal.

On October 21, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings in light of the Court’s ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause dismissing partisan gerrymandering claims as non-justiciable by federal courts.

Documents

District Court 

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (congressional intervenors' appeal re: denial of intervention) 

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (legislative intervenors' first appeal re: denial of intervention) 

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (legislative intervenors' second appeal re: denial of intervention) 

U.S. Supreme Court

Congressional and Legislative Intervenors' Appeal 

Emergency Application for Stay of Trial (Docket No. 18A769)

Emergency Petition to Stay Trial (Docket No. 18-973)

Emergency Application for Stay of Remedial Proceedings (Docket No. 18A1171)

Application for Extension of Time to File Jurisdictional Statement (Docket No. 18A1255)

Jurisdictional Briefing (Docket No. 19-220)

Senatorial Intervenors' Appeal

Emergency Application for Stay of Remedial Proceedings (Docket No. 18A1170)