The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ruling Monday morning that would have caused almost three dozen Michigan congressional and legislative districts to be redrawn on account of the districts unfairly helping one political party.
The 34 Michigan districts under examination by the Court included 15 state house, 10 state senate and nine congressional districts.
Multiple Democratic plaintiffs along with the League of Women Voters first brought the case to attention, and a panel including three federal judges in April, saying the districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The group gave the state a deadline of Aug. 1 to redraw the district lines in time for the 2020 election or the court would do it for them.
The panel then released a 146-page opinion which said the boundaries enacted by Republicans following the 2010 census either filled districts with Democratic voters or spread out their own voters in other districts in a way in which was unconstitutional.
Previous gerrymandering cases in Maryland and North Carolina set a precedent for the Michigan ruling. The previous cases split the Court 5-4.
Michigan’s political lines will now stay put until at least 2022. Last year, a statewide referendum created a bipartisan commission that is expected to begin drawing the boundaries.
Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians, a group which helped with the referendum, told the Detroit Free Press the Court’s unwillingness to protect voters from gerrymandering undermines the importance of citizen-led initiatives on drawing political lines.
“The public now knows what happens behind closed doors when politicians and special interests have the power to manipulate election district maps for partisan political gain,” Wang said.
This comes after the Supreme Court’s June ruling to allow state courts to make decisions on questions regarding political boundary lines instead of ruling on them itself.