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Lawsuit Says Redrawn Detroit Districts Unfair To Minorities

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(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A coalition of labor and civil rights groups has filed a lawsuit challenging new boundaries for Detroit seats in the Michigan Legislature.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Detroit federal court says the new map forces black incumbents to run against other black incumbents and dilutes the political representation of Hispanics.

Former State Representative Belda Garza joined in with the NAACP, the UAW and the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus in calling the redistricting plan racial gerrymandering.

It accuses state Republicans of illegally drawing legislative districts to strip minority voters of their Constitutional right to select candidates of their choosing.  Garza said the the Latino community was deliberately divided into two districts where they are minorities.

“This is an effort by Republicans to crack the Latino community and to lessen their political power, so we will fight this til the end,” Garza said.

The lawsuit, against Gov. Rick Snyder and the Secretary of State, is aimed at stopping the redistricting plan   Opponents say the 2012 map violates the U.S. Constitution and should be thrown out.

“Essentially, this case is about stripping voters of color of their opportunity to participate fully in the political process,” said NAACP Attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell.

Maps for Congress and the Legislature were approved by Republicans and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican. Spokeswoman Sara Wurfel says the governor wouldn’t have signed the maps if he thought they were unfair.

They’ll be used in the primary election next August.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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