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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Should state Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from gerrymandering case?

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court
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The Voters Not Politicians proposal is on the ballot this fall. It would establish an independent commission to draw the legislative and congressional district boundaries instead of allowing the party in power to draw them. If it passes, it would put an end to gerrymandering.

The party in power, the Republicans, want it off the ballot. 

A group called Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution filed a lawsuit to challenge the ballot effort, saying that it’s not just a Constitutional amendment, it’s an overhaul of the state Constitution. The Court of Appeals rejected the challenge, and now it’s heading to the state Supreme Court. 

That Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution group is closely aligned with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. 

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce also hosted fundraisers for two of the Michigan Supreme Court Justices up for election. Kurtis Wilder and Elizabeth Clement were both appointed to the court by Republican governors and both are expected to be nominated by the Republican party.

Douglas Keith is counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. He spoke with Stateside’s Lester Graham about public perception and biases on the court. 

“We polled a while back and found that 90 percent of people think judges shouldn’t be hearing cases involving major campaign donors, and yet most states including Michigan don’t have rules that expressly prohibit judges from hearing those cases,” Keith said.

Listen above to hear the full conversation.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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