Minority groups sue to block state redistricting plan

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Courtesy of The Detroit News:

Josh Katzenstein/ The Detroit News

Detroit— Minority advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan legislative redistricting plan for Detroit seats he signed into law in August.

Legal representatives of the groups — which include the NAACP, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development — said at a press conference Thursday morning the plan violates the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and they are seeking a response from the state within the next 48 hours.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed discriminatory voting practices and the 14th Amendment’s one-person, one-vote standard.

“This is no more than a concerted attempt on Michigan … to create this barrier to reduce the voting capacity and ability of people of color,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP.

The plan could cost Detroiters representation in Lansing as new district borders reach further into the suburbs. The group also took issue with southwest Detroit being split into two districts, lessening the opportunity for the Latino community to be fully represented, leaders said.

“The efforts by the Republicans to crack the Latino community is just unacceptable,” former State Rep. Belda Garza said.

According to the lawsuit, the new districts could force out of office 50 percent of the minority representatives from Detroit and 35 percent across the state because districts that previously were heavily minority will now have more white voters, making it more difficult for a minority candidate to win office. It will only force out 2 percent of white candidates statewide, according to the lawsuit.

Redistricting is required by law every 10 years after the U.S. Census is completed. Changes reflect population loss in southeast Michigan and migration throughout the state. Each district is supposed to have roughly the same population.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel says the governor wouldn’t have signed the maps if he thought they were unfair.

“The Republican caucus has used gerrymandering and a manipulation of the process to advance their own agenda at the expense of voters,” State Rep. Thomas Stallworth, D-Detroit, said. “Michigan voters deserve equal representation and protection under the law, and this process is a direct violation of both voter rights and civil rights.”

The lawsuit, filed with the Eastern District Court of Michigan, calls for an injunction and temporary restraining order of the bill. The plaintiffs also have an alternative redistricting plan, which they say is legal and better protects the rights of minorities.

The maps will be used in the primary election next August.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111208/POLITICS02/112080460/Minority-groups-sue-to-block-state-redistricting-plan#ixzz1g0ZgtoXL

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