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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

Danger lurks in the Democrats' police talk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Exclusive: Harris meets Guatemalan president Monday, travels in June

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet virtually Monday with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss solutions to the surge of migration, and she'll visit the region in June, a senior White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: The administration is taking a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem and also hopes to announce details about its plan for investing aid in Central America on Monday — although a final dollar amount has yet to be decided.

Scoop: Government pays for some sponsors to pick up migrant kids

MIgrant minors play soccer at a holding facility in Donna, Texas. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills/AFP via Getty Images

The federal government has been paying travel costs for adult sponsors trying to get to shelters to pick up migrant children, a Department of Health and Human Services agency spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Officials would not provide numbers, but the policy shift underscores the urgency the Biden administration feels to quickly release kids who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone and remain in HHS custody.