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Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A panel of 3 federal judges on Thursday struck down Michigan’s congressional and state legislative districts, ruling that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans who could "enjoy durable majorities in Michigan’s congressional delegation and in both chambers of the Michigan legislature for the entire decade."

"This Court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. We find that the Enacted Plan violates Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because it deliberately dilutes the power of their votes by placing them in districts that were intentionally drawn to ensure a particular partisan outcome in each district."
— U.S. District Judge Eric Clay wrote.

Details: In response to a federal suit from the League of Women Voters and Democratic voters targeting the state's GOP-dominated legislature 2011 redistricting plan, the judges ruled that 34 state House, Senate and congressional districts should be redrawn before the 2020 elections.

  • The legislature has until Aug. 1 to enact a new plan. If that deadline is missed, the court said it will draw the new maps.
  • The state has also been ordered to hold special elections in 2020 for affected Senate districts, instead of 2022 as currently scheduled.

Last year, the suit unearthed private emails showing that Republican had used their 2011 redistricting plan to maintain electoral advantage over Democrats, contradicting Republicans’ claims that the lines were not drawn with political bias.

The backdrop: This order comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two blockbuster partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland seeking to determine whether electoral maps warped by politics may cross a constitutional line. The Supreme Court's decision, which is expected by June, will likely determine the outcome of the Michigan ruling.

  • Last year, voters in Michigan — frequently a battleground state in national elections — voted to shift the duty of drawing electoral maps into the hands of independent redistricting commissions rather than lawmakers. Voting maps are drawn every 10 years to reflect population change.

Go deeper: Supreme Court weighs limits on gerrymandering

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.