CASE SUMMARY

On December 7, 2021, a coalition of Michigan-based media organizations and a Michigan voter filed a petition with the Michigan Supreme Court, challenging several of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission's actions as violating the Michigan Constitution's redistricting provisions related to transparency. The plaintiffs' complaint revolves around two specific actions: the redistricting commission's holding of closed-door meetings to discuss issues involving Voting Rights Act compliance when redistricting, and the commission's decision to keep the underlying materials and memoranda from those meetings private. The plaintiffs assert that by holding a closed-door meeting to discuss matters that directly pertained to redistricting, the commission violated the Michigan Constitution's directive that it "shall conduct all of its business at open meetings." Similarly, in withholding the underlying records from those meetings and memoranda discussing Voting Rights Act compliance and racial voting analyses that were used in the creation of redistricting plans, the commission violated the Michigan Constitution's requirement to publish all "data and supporting materials used to develop" redistricting plans. The plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that the Commission's closed-door meetings and withholding of materials violates the Michigan Constitution and a writ of mandamus requiring the Commission to release all recordings, records, and materials from the closed-door meetings, any memoranda considered in the creation of redistricting plans, and for the Commission to make all future business meetings open to the public.

On December 20, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion in favor of the majority of petitioners' claims. First, the Court held that the Commission's closed-door meeting held on October 27, 2021, violated the open meetings requirement of Mich. Const. art. IV, Section 6(10) because in discussing matters related to the "development and adoption" of redistricting plans, the Commission was conducting "business." Therefore, the Commission had to release the record from that closed-door meeting. Next, the Court held that the Commission was required to release seven of the memoranda sought by the plaintiffs because they constituted "supporting materials" used to develop redistricting plans, which must be published pursuant to Mich. Const. art. IV, Section 6(9). Finally, the Court held the Commission did not have to release the final three sought memoranda because they did not fall within the scope of "supporting materials."

CASE LIBRARY

Michigan Supreme Court - No. 163823