LANSING – Michigan Republicans have asked the three-judge panel that ruled last week the Legislature must redraw maps for Michigan’s 14 U.S. House seats, the Michigan Senate and the Michigan House for an emergency stay of the ruling.
The motion for an emergency stay and immediate consideration was filed Friday by most of the state’s Republican members of Congress and several Republicans in the Legislature who have intervened in the case.
The motion raises several issues, but focuses on disputing the three-judge panel’s controversial conclusion that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that courts can determine whether partisan gerrymandering is illegal. The panel asserted the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 passed a plan that illegally skewed the maps in favor of GOP candidates.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina and one of the big questions is whether the court will hold that partisan gerrymandering, if it occurs, is illegal. The Republican intervening defendants said the panel should stay its ruling to await the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court case.
“This court should grant a stay because it adopted its standards wholesale from Common Cause v. Rucho, and Lamone v. Benisek,” the GOP motion says. “Both cases are now before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is considering the justiciability of these very standards.”
The motion also slams the court’s order that districts be redrawn by August 1 or the court will do so on its own. Further, the motion says because of Michigan’s Constitution limits senators to winning two elections, the ruling will cut the terms of various state senators short.
“The extent of the intrusion into this most vital of local functions is unprecedented,” the motion says. “While this Court has the authority to order new districts drawn in compliance with its order, it does not have the authority to micromanage the Legislature’s process in complying with its order.”
Further, the motion warns the court order will impede candidate recruitment, election strategy, resource allocation and constituent services. And having to begin redistricting will force the postponement of priority legislation and the expense of state funds, the motion says.
The motion from the Senate Republicans focuses on the uncertainty to the Senate because of the unprecedented special election the court ordered (the Senate would have to stand for election in 2020 when it is not scheduled to be up for election until 2022).
“State senators’ constitutionally established four-year terms of office will be cut in half by judicial fiat, and many senators’ reelection may be challenged due to uncertainty about Michigan’s term limits under the circumstances. In short, electoral chaos will ensue if the order stands,” the Senate Republicans’ motion says.
The odds of the three-judge panel staying its decision would appear remote. It repeatedly rejected motions to stay the case from the Republican defendants and several times rejected motions to remove the Senate from the case because the 2011 maps will no longer be used (when the Senate next stands for election in 2022, it would do so under the 2021 reapportionment plan).
Republicans have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.