By Tim Kiska
The fight may seem like Wonk vs. Wonk, but it’s not. The U.S. Census Department distributes new numbers every 10 years, and the party in power draws new political boundaries – doing its best to hobble folks on the other side of the aisle.
Every congressional candidate, every state representative and state Senate seat hopeful — not to mention county commission contenders across the state — live with those boundaries for a decade.
The map drawn by Republicans in Lansing this summer is giving Democratic legislators fits.
According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, some five of 14 minority legislators are being gerrymandered out of jobs. The lines have been drawn, according to the suit, so few minority legislators have home-district advantage going into the August 2012 Democratic primary. The suit claims the districts have been drawn to “create maximum upheaval in the city’s politics.”
And the traditionally Hispanic southwest side of Detroit has been carved up into two districts instead of one, weakening the growing Latino voting bloc. The NAACP, the United Auto Workers, the state’s Legislative Black Caucus, and Latin Americans For Social and Economic Development are taking the new boundaries to court. The Republicans are maintaining that they’ve drawn the maps according to the book.
But the battle over lines isn’t confined to Detroit: The state House of Representatives voted last week to cut the number of Oakland County commissioners from 25 to 21. And guess who gets to draw the new lines? The Republican-controlled Oakland County Commission. The Oakland Press points out that “It’s likely the new map, if drawn by the current county commission, would preserve the Republican majority.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a fight over redistricting in Texas, which could spill into the Detroit court case.
Voters will have to live with whatever gets decided for another 10 years.