AG: Redistricting commission's closed-door session likely violated Michigan Constitution

Michigan Capitol Building
Posted at 11:48 AM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 11:48:13-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that a closed-door Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting likely violated the Michigan Constitution.

In the opinion issued, Nessel said that the commission should have conducted the business in an open meeting.

Sens. Ed McBroom and Jeff Irwin asked the AG to provide her opinion and see if the closed-door session violated the constitution.

In the opinion, Nessel wrote in part, "the Commission went into closed session to discuss memoranda titled, ‘Voting Rights Act’ and ‘The History of Discrimination in the State of Michigan and its Influence on Voting.’ Based on the titles of these memoranda, presumably, the matters discussed provided Commission members with certain legal parameters and historical context that should be considered in developing, drafting, and adopting the redistricting plans. If this presumption is correct, then the Commission was conducting ‘business’ that should have been done in an open meeting."

According to Nessel, she is not saying that the commission should never meet in closed session, but the session that was closed should have been open.

“The Commission is tasked with developing and adopting new districts that will no doubt change the makeup of our elected legislators,” Nessel said in a statement. “It remains imperative that such a monumental responsibility be conducted in a public forum. The citizens of this state are owed a transparent process and the Commission must do its best to meet that expectation.”

The commission held the closed-door session on Oct. 27 to discuss memos that had legal advice related to the Voting Rights Act