LANSING -- Today, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC), along with the Detroit Branch NAACP, UAW and Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LaSED) today announced a lawsuit filed against State of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to halt the implementation of the Michigan Legislative Redistricting Plan.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court – Eastern District of Michigan and was assigned to the Honorable Judge Bernard Friedman. The lawsuit states that the submitted redistricting plan strips minority voters of their right to select candidates of their choosing by creating districts that will force out 50% of the minority Representatives to the State House from the City of Detroit (35% of all minority State
Representatives in total, statewide). The State’s action violates Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the 14th Amendment One Person One Vote Standard.
"The Republican caucus has used gerrymandering and a manipulation of the process to advance their own agenda at the expense of voters," State Rep. Thomas Stallworth (D-Detroit) said. "Michigan voters deserve equal representation and protection under the law, and this process is a direct violation of both voter rights and civil rights."
The lawsuit also states that the Redistricting Plan deprives the Latino community in Southwest Detroit of the ability to act in a politically cohesive manner by willfully and knowingly creating House of Representatives districts in the community that split the Latino community in half; Latino voters have become the fastest-growing demographic in the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan over the past 10 years.
The plaintiffs in the case are seeking a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and the appointment of a Special Master to cure the discriminatory conduct of the State of Michigan in its Redistricting Plan.
State Representative Fred Durhal, Jr. (D-Detroit), and Chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, said concerns about gerrymandering are widespread in his community and that Republican legislators violated the principle that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.
"The Republican majority dismissed the maps submitted by the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, which actually ranked higher than the enacted maps on various objective standards," Durhal said. "Voters deserve representation that reflects them and their district, not politicians who want to impose their will simply because their party won the privilege to redraw the lines. With the number of minority voters growing over the past decade and with our voices becoming stronger we will not allow this flawed redistricting plan to be enacted without a fight.”