Clark Hill Successfully Supports Detroit Voters in Redistricting Case
Clark Hill’s Michael Pattwell, Jennifer Green, James Fleming, and Amia Banks successfully represented a group of 19 Detroit-area voters in a redistricting lawsuit related to new boundaries for state senate and state house districts implemented after the 2020 census.
On Dec. 21, a panel of federal judges in the Western District of Michigan ruled that the boundaries for 13 seats in the metro Detroit region were drawn unconstitutionally by an independent redistricting commission. The Court found that the districts were drawn based on race and violated the Equal Protection Clause.
“We’re satisfied with the ruling which will help restore the constitutional voting rights of so many Detroiters,” Pattwell said. “We look forward to following the commission’s progress in resetting these boundaries next year.”
In Agee v. Benson, judges ordered that no state elections can take place in the six senate seats and seven house seats until the districts are redrawn in 2024, and the matter will be revisited in early January to begin the process of redrawing boundary lines.
In the 2018 election, Michigan voters approved the creation of an independent redistricting commission of 13 citizens to draw election districts and take away those duties from state legislators. The commission hired voting rights consultants to help guide its map-making process and recorded more than 10,000 pages of communications between each other and its consultants. Pattwell and Green relied heavily on those recordings as the basis for their trial examinations.
“We were able to prove that consultants told commission members to divide Detroit districts based on race, and the court agreed with our position that those suggestions led to districts that violated our clients’ voting rights,” Green said.
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