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The State of Redistricting Litigation

A roundup of where key redistricting cases across the country stand.

Last Updated: June 15, 2021
Published: February 10, 2020

Chal­lenges to Redis­trict­ing Reforms

Michigan

Daunt v. Benson

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 19, 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. 

Update: On May 27, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judg­ment.

Key filings for Daunt v. Benson can be found here

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 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 10, 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.

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 19, 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. 

Update: On May 27, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judg­ment.

Key filings for Michigan Repub­lican Party v. Benson can be found here.