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Politics & Government

Michigan high court hears challenge to redistricting measure

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to a proposed November ballot initiative to change who draws congressional and legislative districts every decade.

The proposal would empower an independent commission to handle redistricting instead of the Legislature, now controlled by Republicans. 

In a special session, the justices asked many questions during 75 minutes of arguments. 

Aaron Lindstrom is the state Solicitor General. He says this type of measure isn’t right for the ballot – instead it would take a constitutional convention.

Justice Richard Bernstein was skeptical of the argument, saying, “Let’s kinda get real here. How are people going to call a constitutional convention? I mean, seriously, I mean are you really equating that to a ballot initiative in terms of a separate vehicle that the voters have? I mean come on.”
Lindstrom says just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s not the right method.

“So it may be hard to do, but the point that it’s hard to do might be consistent with the fact that it’s ending up with a new constitution.”

Supporters of the measure say it’s an appropriate change to the state’s constitution and the people should get a chance to vote on it. Critics say the current process results in partisan gerrymandering that hurts democracy.

A group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce says the constitutional amendment is too broad and proposes a general revision that can only be considered at a constitutional convention. Voters Not Politicians says its proposal addresses a single subject.

The state appeals court ordered the initiative on the ballot. Election officials want a ruling by early August.

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