Redistricting reform supporters rallied Wednesday outside the Michigan Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments about whether voters this fall should decide the high-stakes plan to let an independent panel draw political boundaries. The redistricting commission ballot proposal — which practically exempts itself from judicial oversight — is the kind of “sweeping, radical change” that could only be achieved through a constitutional convention, opposition attorneys told the high court. Lawyers for Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office argued the proposal constitutes a revision — rather than an amendment — to the state Constitution and should be kept off the November ballot. Volunteers gathered nearly 400,000 valid signatures in an attempt to put the plan before voters.
Attorneys for the Voters Not Politicians ballot committee told the seven justices the measure is an amendment because it has a singular purpose: to reform the way legislative and congressional maps are drawn every decade. It would create an independent commission to take over a task now controlled by whichever political party holds power in Lansing — most recently Republicans in 2011.
The justices heard nearly one and a half hours of oral arguments during a special session called to hear a case fraught with political implications. Supporters of the proposal, who contend it would curb “gerrymandering,” rallied outside the Hall of Justice, chanting “let the voters decide.”