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162891 - In re Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

In re Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for State Legislative and Congressional District’s Duty to redraw districts by November 1, 2021  

Summary

The Michigan Constitution mandates that the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for State Legislative and Congressional Districts adopt a redistricting plan by November 1, 2021.  Before the Commission can adopt a plan, each plan must be made available for public comment for 45 days.  This means that the Commission must have proposed plans available to the public by September 17, 2021.  The Commission and the Secretary of State (Petitioners) filed a Petition for Relief in the Supreme Court, stating that the Commission must have the 2020 census data from the federal government in order to draw plans that satisfy state and federal law.  Ordinarily, this data would have been available to the Commission in March 2021, but due to the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau will not be releasing this data to the states until September 30, 2021, which is after the date by which the Commission is required to publish proposed plans.  In light of this extraordinary circumstance, the petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to extend the constitutional deadline.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the petition, directing the petitioners to address:  (1) whether the petition properly invokes this Court’s original jurisdiction under Const 1963, art 6, § 4 or Const 1963, art 4, § 6(19); (2) whether this Court has the authority to deem a constitutional timing requirement as directory instead of mandatory; and, if so; (3) whether the unprecedented delay in the transmission of federal decennial census data justifies a deviation from the constitutional timeline.  See, e.g., Ferency v Secretary of State, 409 Mich 569, 602 (1980); Attorney General ex rel Miller v Miller, 266 Mich 127, 133 (1934).  The Supreme Court has asked the Attorney General to submit separate briefs arguing both sides of the above questions.  ​