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The Michigan State Capitol building. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A ruling late Tuesday by Michigan's Supreme Court will allow voters in the state to decide on a November ballot measure seeking to rein in excessive partisan gerrymandering after conservatives sought to block the reform plan. 

Why it matters: This is a major victory for the grassroots activism group Voters Not Politicians, which seeking to limit lawmakers' control over the redrawing of state and federal electoral maps in one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

  • A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current legislative and congressional maps drawn in 2011 unearthed records last week showing that Michigan Republicans had used the process to maintain electoral advantage over Democrats. The disclosure of private emails, first reported by Bridge Magazine, contradicts Republicans’ claims that the lines were not drawn with political bias.

The details: If passed, the reform measure would amend Michigan’s constitution to place a bipartisan independent redistricting commission in charge of redrawing maps. It would be comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independent commission members — and would mandate a series of public hearings during the process. 

  • The state high court’s 4-3 decision comes after conservative groups appealed a lower court’s ruling allowing voters to consider the measure. Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers had approved the measure, but conservative challengers argue that changes to the state’s constitution should not be decided through a ballot measure — only a constitutional convention. 

The big picture: Election reform advocates across the country are increasingly turning to ballot initiatives to curb gerrymandering after the Supreme Court punted in June on two partisan gerrymandering cases.

  • Colorado will vote on two similar ballot proposals in November, and petition requests in Missouri and Utah are awaiting certification.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
34 mins ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

40 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Wall Street bets it all on a vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's the time of year when Wall Street shops are rolling out predictions for where they see the stock market headed in the coming year. There's one common theme: Widespread distribution of a vaccine is the reason to be bullish.

Why it matters: Analysts say vaccines will help the economy heal, corporate profits rebound and stock market continue its upward trajectory.