Detroit Democrats demand more representation and new districts

A decision on how and when the districts in question will be redrawn is expected early next year.

Detroit Democrat Adam Hollier at a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting in October 2021.

Detroit Democrat Adam Hollier at a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting in October 2021.

A federal court is requiring the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) to redraw more than a dozen state House and Senate districts around Detroit.

The court ruled that the commission drew those lines using race as a main factor in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

The MICRC was advised to use race as a factor to avoid packing in too many Black people into districts by lawyers hired by the commission. Packing is a common tactic for political gerrymandering.

The court’s decision has drawn widespread praise from Republicans and from some Detroit Democrats.

Among them is former state Senator and current Congressional candidate Adam Hollier. He says that there’s a way to serve Black Detroiters that doesn’t dilute their representation.

“You went from 17 Black legislators in this area to less than 10,” Hollier said. “And that was meaningful in a way that you did not see across the rest of the country.”

The 2022 election was a watershed moment for Democrats. The new districts allowed them to gain slim margins in the Michigan House and Senate. Add in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and it’s the first time Democrats have had complete control state government since the early 1980s.

Listen: Adam Hollier speaks with WDET’s Russ McNamara about the court requiring the MICRC to redraw some Detroit area legislative districts

Joe Tate was named Speaker of the House — the first African-American to hold that title.

Hollier calls the notion that the maps had to be drawn that way to help Democrats a “false narrative.”

“Black voters are the basis and the backbone of the Democratic Party and do not have to be sacrificed to have majorities,” Hollier said.  “Partisan fairness was achieved in the Senate maps in Washtenaw County and Bay County.”

The MICRC is undergoing some changes as well. In recent weeks, the Commission has seen three members resign.

Despite the districts all being in metro Detroit, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The three judges that heard the case are all appointees of former President George W. Bush.

Hollier and former State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo are among a group of Black lawmakers calling for the judges to appoint a special master to redraw the district lines.

“We cannot rely on an embattled and inept entity such as the Michigan Redistricting Commission,” Gay-Dagnogo said, “which was misguided from the onset to ignore the citizens of Detroit during countless hearings, to now get this right.”

A decision on how and when the districts will be drawn is expected early next year.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.