Supreme Court overturns ruling in Michigan gerrymandering case

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Posted at 11:28 AM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 13:55:56-04

(WXYZ) — The United States Supreme Court has overturned a lower court's ruling that found Michigan's congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutional and would have forced the state to re-draw at least 34 districts ahead of the 2020 election.

The case had been stayed since May while the Supreme Court heard two gerrymandering cases in Maryland and North Carolina, and the ruling was widely expected after SCOTUS, in June, found that federal courts don't play in a role allegations of partisan gerrymandering.

Justices voted 5-4 in that ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying that while the districts were "highly partisan by any measure," partisan gerrymandering claims are "beyond the reach of the federal courts."

In April, the three-judge federal panel found that Michigan's maps were unconstitutional and ordered the state Legislature to redraw at least 34 districts ahead of the 2020 election. The Republican-led legislature filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, which issued the stay. That means the order is blocked while the Supreme Court reviews the case.

In the federal panel ruling, the judges said 34 of the state's 162 congressional and legislative districts drawn by Republicans in 2011 violated Democratic voters' rights, and did give the state legislature until Aug. 1 to submit new maps. Republicans had appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which made its final decision on Monday.

It started with a lawsuit from the League of Women Voters who said that the districts were drawn by Republicans to guarantee the party's dominance in the state.

When SCOTUS made its ruling on gerrymandering in June, it also affected states like North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio and Wisconsin.