Michigan lawmakers ask AG if closed-door redistricting meeting was legal

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After some believe the Michigan Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Committee (MICRC) violated its own Constitutional amendment, two lawmakers asked Attorney General Dana Nessel for a legal opinion.

On Wednesday, The MICRC entered a closed-door session to discuss a legal memo, despite its Constitutional amendment that mandates “The commission shall conduct all of its business at open meetings.”

Sens. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, signed the letter dated Oct. 27. The MICRC said it entered the closed session to discuss attorney-client privilege about a Voting Rights Act memo and another on the history of discrimination in Michigan and its influence on voting.

“Ensuring the level of transparency guaranteed by the Constitution is integral to maintain the public’s confidence in the Commission’s work, which of course includes deliberates on the fundamentally important role of the Voting Rights Act in the redistricting process,” the letter says. “Accordingly, we respectfully request that you provide your legal opinion on the following question: Did the Commission, by entering a closed session on October 27, 2021, violate Article 4, [section] 6 of the Michigan Constitution?”

Attorney Steven Liedel said that he believed the act violated the Constitution, tweeting : “MICRC closed session also appears inconsistent with portion of Const 1963, art 4, sec 6(10): ‘The commission shall use technology to provide contemporaneous public observation and meaningful public participation in the redistricting process during all meetings and hearings.'”

The timeline for the opinion is unclear, but Nessel’s office confirmed it received the letter.

In a press conference, MICRC spokesman Edward Woods III told reporters, “I'm not aware of any discussion that took place” while the Commission was behind closed doors.

When asked if the meeting violated the Constitution, MICRC attorney Julianne Pastula said the Commission “received legal advice from their counsel, and that legal advice would not be appropriate to provide in open session, because it's protected by the attorney-client privilege.”

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