New Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson moved Thursday to settle a lawsuit that challenges the state’s Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts, a step that potentially could lead to new maps for the 2020 election. The Democrat, who took office two weeks ago, filed a brief seeking to halt a federal trial scheduled for Feb. 5. The filing says a resolution is in the best interest of the state and its voters, “as it will correct any lasting impact of impermissible partisan gerrymandering that may have occurred in the past.” Democrats and the League of Women Voters sued just over a year ago , alleging that Michigan’s U.S. House and state legislative districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to dilute the voting power of Democrats. The districts were enacted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder.
While voters approved a constitutional amendment in November creating an independent commission to handle redistricting after the 2020 Census, the case could impact the 2020 election.
Asked if Benson favors new 2020 maps, spokesman Shawn Starkey said “discussions haven’t fully begun related to the terms and the structure of a consent agreement.”
Benson, like Republican state lawmakers and congressional members who intervened in the suit, wants the trial delayed but for different reasons. The GOP legislators filed a brief last week urging that the trial should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on separate cases appealing rulings of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts by Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland.