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Michigan Republican Party v. Benson

On August 22, 2019, the Michigan Republican Party and five individuals who affiliate with the party filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s independent citizen redistricting commission under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Last Updated: June 23, 2020
Published: September 19, 2019

On August 22, 2019, the Michigan Republican Party and five individuals who affiliate with the party filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s independent redistricting commission under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs argue that the commission’s rules violate their First Amendment rights to free speech and association, as well as their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit claims multiple aspects of the rules governing the commission are unconstitutional, including the composition of the commission and the eligibility requirements that bar certain people from serving as commissioners. The plaintiffs argue that these rules, among others, discriminate against political parties, as well as against individuals for their partisan affiliations and political activity.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the commission unconstitutional and block the Michigan Secretary of State from enforcing any part of the constitutional amendment through which it was established.

On August 22, the plaintiffs also filed a motion to enjoin commission proceedings pending litigation.

On September 11, this case was consolidated with Daunt v. Benson. On November 25, the court denied the both sets of plaintiffs' motions for preliminary injunctions. On December 9, the Michigan Republican Party plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On February 14, the Brennan Center for Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Michigan Secretary of State Benson, arguing that the commission’s rules safeguard the state’s compelling interest in preventing single-party control over the redistricting process.

Oral argument took place via telephone on March 17, 2020. 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.

Documents

District Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit