DETROIT — A panel of federal judges ordered Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature to redraw nearly three dozen state and U.S. congressional districts on Thursday, saying that the existing boundaries dilute the power of Democratic voters.
The panel of three judges said that the current maps drawn by Republicans represent a political gerrymander of “historical proportions,” The Detroit News reported.
Michigan must now redraw legislative and congressional districts for the 2020 election, which lawmakers have until August 1 to complete.
The new boundaries would need to be signed by Governor Whitmer, a Democrat.
If the lawmakers fail to complete the project, or if the new lines are found to be similarly unconstitutional, the judges said that they would draw the maps themselves, a report from Politico said.
Michigan ordered to hold special state elections
The court also ordered Michigan to hold special State Senate elections next year, rather than in 2022 as scheduled, in any districts that have been gerrymandered. Michigan’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are also up for election next year and a majority of them could end up with new boundaries following the new ruling.
“Today, this court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” U.S. District Judge Eric Clay, an appointee of former President Clinton, wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.
The lawsuit was filed by individual Democratic voters and by the League of Women Voters of Michigan.