Whitmer’s legislative wishes may have just been granted
Make no mistake. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is sincere in her desire to foster bipartisan cooperation with the Republicans who control the state House and Senate.
But don’t kid youself. If she possessed a magic wand to put the Democrats in charge of the Legislature, she would wave it in a minute.
She, of course, does not have a wand. But she does have the equivalent: a federal court decision that could produce the same results, if the U.S.Surpeme Court does not toss it out.
The 6th Circuit federal appeals court ruled that Michigan Republicans were guilty of gerrymandering the state’s congressional and legislative voting districts in a way that resulted in them running the House and Senate for years, even though more Democrats vote than Republicans during statewide elections.
And, in a mandate that sent shock waves across the state, the three judges ordered the Legislature to redraw the voting lines to give Democrats and Republicans an almost equal shot at winning. And, even though state Senators are not up for reelection until 2022, the court ordered a new Senate election for 2020 in nine Senate and 15 House districts.
And therein lies the governor’s one and only hope of breaking the stranglehold the GOP has on legislative control.
The Democratic hope is that, if they can win four of the five GOP Senate seats, they would have the votes to run the Senate. Likewise, if they beat three Republicans who now hold House seats, the D’s could control the House, too.
In a flash, the Democratic governor could stop groveling for GOP votes to fix the roads and pass her 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax hike and move the rest of her first-term agenda with relative ease compared to what she’s doing now, which is playing ball with the Republicans at almost every turn.
All this is pie-in-the-sky, but the Democrats are eager to eat it.
Equally eager — to kill it — are the Republicans. They are asking the nation’s highest court to stay the lower court decision or, better yet, declare the ruling unconstitutional.
In which case, the governor’s hopes go up in smoke.
The R’s have another legal hope of their own revolving around two reapportionment cases also pending before the Supreme Court. The court is being asked to decide, perhaps as early as this June, if the federal courts have jurisdiction over redistricting questions or if it is the sole provocative of the states.
If the justices decide this is a state’s rights matter, than the recent lower court decision affecting Michigan is null and void, which means the status quo remains and Republicans lose nothing.
There is no way to predict which way things will tilt, but at least one veteran GOP barrister is confident the court will punt to the states all of those gerrymandering disputes.
But until that happens, if at all, the GOP leadership is abiding by the court order to draft new voting districts for a 2020 election.
And the Democrats are eager to help, while the governor hopes her Fairy Godmother will pass along that magic wand to zap the Republicans.