OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort to overturn the rulings of lower federal courts that had ordered Michigan’s redistricting commission to redraw 13 state legislative districts in the Detroit area to enhance their competitiveness.
Federal courts had directed state officials to revise the state House and Senate districts because they were deemed unconstitutional. Consequently, a significant portion of the maps crafted by Michigan’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2021 were invalidated.
“The three-judge panel ordered the Secretary of State to refrain from holding elections in those districts until they are redrawn in compliance with the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” according to The Detroit News.
The decision is likely to have a profound effect on 2024 election outcomes from this major swing state.
The redistricting commission had appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn a December decision by a three-judge federal appeals court panel, which found that the creation of Michigan’s legislative maps in 2021 had been influenced by race to an excessive degree. The panel highlighted that even though nearly 80 percent of Detroit’s population is Black, the proportion of Black voting-age individuals in the 13 Detroit-area districts ranged mostly from 35 percent to 45 percent, with one district as low as 19 percent, as reported by the Associated Press.
The panel was tasked with redrawing the boundaries of seven state House districts for the upcoming 2024 election. Additionally, the report mentioned that the deadline for the six state Senate districts had been extended since the senators’ terms would not conclude until 2026.
“A drafted state House map is due by Feb. 2, and a final deadline is March 29,” the AP added.
In its decision, the Supreme Court did not provide an explanation for its refusal to hear the case. John Bursch, the attorney representing the Detroit voters who had filed the lawsuit against the commission, expressed their satisfaction with the high court’s ruling. Bursch noted that the commission still has the option to appeal, but he viewed the Supreme Court’s order as a strong indication that such an appeal is likely to be unsuccessful.
David Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University in Michigan, suggested to the AP that while the specifics of the new maps remain uncertain, it is probable that there will be an increase in the number of districts focused on Detroit, which would tend to lean strongly Democratic. The shift could potentially impact the competitiveness of districts in the suburbs, making them more hotly contested.
“You could see these districts, or even a subset of them, really be where the fight for control of the state House is,” Dulio said.
In 2022, Michigan Democrats achieved a significant victory by gaining control of both the state House and Senate, in addition to retaining the governor’s office. This marked the first time in four decades that they had full control of the state government. The redrawing of legislative maps by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2021 played a significant role in the party’s success.
The ruling comes as the 2024 presidential election is already underway.
Trump’s popularity among everyday, working-class Americans has been steadily increasing for several months. However, a recent survey indicates that his lead among this specific demographic has grown even more significant.
The Center Square’s polling of “2,573 likely voters, conducted in conjunction with Noble Predictive Insights, shows Trump’s support is highest among Republican voters making less than $50,000 and those without a college degree.”
The poll revealed that among all probable Republican and Republican-leaning voters, Trump enjoys a substantial lead over other GOP contenders. Among these likely voters, 61 percent expressed their preference for Trump. Following far behind were former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley with 13 percent and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with 12 percent. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy garnered 7 percent support, while former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secured just 2 percent, the Center Square reported.
All of those candidates except for Haley have dropped out of the GOP primaries, leaving her trailing badly against Trump.