The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments about whether voters in November should be able to pass a constitutional amendment that would change how the state’s voting maps are drawn or whether such changes could only be adopted at a rarely held constitutional convention. The proposed ballot measure would empower an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts every decade instead of the Legislature, which is now controlled by the Republicans. It is a bid to stop partisan gerrymandering, which critics say hurts democracy and denies citizens fair representation.
The proposal was certified for the ballot after the state appeals court last month deemed a challenge to be without merit. But a Michigan Chamber of Commerce-affiliated group appealed to the high court, where justices nominated or appointed by Republicans hold a 5-2 edge.
The initiative would create a “superagency” and empower it with executive, legislative and, to some extent, judicial functions “with virtually no checks and balances,” Peters Ellsworth, an attorney for Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, told the court during a special session that last 80 minutes. He said it would make a “fundamental” constitutional revision and should be kept off the ballot.
Full Article: Michigan high court hears challenge to redistricting measure.