Current and former Black state lawmakers in Detroit announced Monday a pending lawsuit to block Michigan’s newly drawn congressional and legislative districts, contending they illegally dilute the voting strength of African Americans.
The step came days after the new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finalized U.S. House and legislative maps to take effect in 2022 and last 10 years. The plans are fairer politically to Democrats but have drawn criticism from Black legislators and the state’s civil rights department because they slash the number of seats where African Africans account for a majority of the voting-age population.
The old maps had 15 such seats by the end of the decade: two in the U.S. House, two in the state Senate and 11 in the state House. Now there seven, all in the state House.
Commissioners have said Black voters can still elect their candidates of choice without comprising at least half of the electorate.
The suit, though, will allege violations of the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the state constitution. The No. 1 map-drawing criteria for the panel was to comply with the 1965 law, which bans discriminatory voting practices and procedures.