Common Cause Files Amicus Brief Requesting Review of Michigan State Senate Voting Map for Racial Gerrymandering

LANSING, MI — Today, Common Cause filed a joint amicus brief with Michigan State University professor Jon X. Eguia in Agee v. Benson, a case in which plaintiffs argue that Michigan’s state legislative maps violate the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

“The people of Michigan engaged in a two-year long redistricting process to end the decades of racial gerrymandering that silenced voters, particularly voters of color” said Quentin Turner, Common Cause Michigan Program Director. “In the case of Detroit, knowing the city’s population is 77% Black, we are concerned that State Senate maps don’t provide Black Michiganders their constitutional right to elect candidates of their choice. We are requesting a rigorous review of Michigan’s State Senate maps to ensure last year’s redistricting process fulfills its promise of guaranteeing every vote counts, including every Black vote.”

The brief describes how 100,000 computer-generated maps using the MGGG Redistricting Lab’s algorithm demonstrate that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission could have drawn significantly more State Senate districts in which Black Michiganders can elect their candidates of choice. 

Additionally, the brief describes the numerous concerns that members of the Black community in Detroit and Lansing voiced during public hearings about the Senate map. Unlike the Senate map, the Michigan House map produced a number of districts that empower Black voters to elect their candidates of choice that is well within the statistical norm compared to computer-generated maps and was more in line with community testimony.

“Overwhelming statistical evidence shows it is not just possible, but probable, that Michigan State Senate maps can include two majority Black districts and meet every other constitutional requirement,” said Jon X Eguia, Michigan State University Economics and Political Science Professor. “In a statistical analysis, nearly 100,000 computer-generated State Senate maps featured two majority Black districts and close to half contained three.”

Currently, a three-judge panel in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan is hearing the case. Frank and Frank Law — a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm — is representing Common Cause and Professor Eguia pro bono on this amicus brief. The plaintiffs are seeking a judicial declaration that the maps violate the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, as well as a court order requiring the state to either redraw those districts or adopt a proposed remedy map.

To read the amicus brief, click here