Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker now working to undermine democracy in Michigan


Voters kicked him out of Wisconsin in 2018, so Scott Walker is taking his sore loser campaign to another state.

The Michigan GOP is at it again, trying to undermine a redistricting referendum that passed with overwhelming support during the 2018 elections.

With an assist from Scott Walker, who lost his own governor's race in neighboring Wisconsin in 2018, the Michigan GOP is suing to block the state from implementing a redistricting initiative that voters overwhelmingly backed.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats swept Michigan. They won every statewide office and passed several progressive ballot initiatives, including implementing automatic voter registration and overhauling redistricting to ban gerrymandering.

The last of those has been a particularly pernicious issue for Michigan, one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country. But in 2018, 61% of Michigan voters supported Proposal 2, which transferred the power to draw legislative districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission.

Michigan Republicans hate that idea, so they're backing a Republican nonprofit, Fair Lines America Foundation, in a lawsuit against their own state. Fair Lines is affiliated with Walker's National Republican Redistricting Trust. Walker issued a statement saying that Michigan's new redistricting commission "punish[es] the people of Michigan" by not letting highly partisan people be members of that commission.

Passed in 2018, Proposal 2 amended Michigan's constitution to create an independent commission with four Republicans, four Democrats, and five independent voters. It bars, for six years, people who have been partisan political candidates, officers of a political party, and lobbyists for a political party, among other things. Finally, if someone is a parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, or spouse of someone otherwise disqualified because of their partisan candidacy or employment, they are excluded as well.

In other words, Michigan was trying to take redistricting out of the hands of the partisans of the legislature and give it to a well-balanced citizens' group. It's tough to think who could be opposed to this, save for Republicans who only retain their seats because of gerrymandering.

The GOP lawsuit alleges that excluding the plaintiffs — people like Tony Daunt, a lobbyist with recent GOP party office positions at both the state and county level — is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs think that it violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech if they can't be hyper-partisan political candidates or operatives and also be members of an independent redistricting commission designed to minimize the effects of partisanship.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw up its hands and said it couldn't interfere in partisan gerrymandering because it is a "political question" beyond the scope of the courts. At the same time, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that states like Michigan have solved the problem by creating independent redistricting commissions.

Michigan voters have demanded that hyper-partisans get out of the way and let the citizens determine how state and local electoral district lines will be drawn. It's not Scott Walker's right — nor that of the Michigan GOP — to decide otherwise.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.