The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the state’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission must release documents and recordings related to a closed-door meeting the group conducted earlier this year.
According to the 4-3 ruling written by Justice David Viviano, the commission’s decision to hold a secret meeting violated the state Constitution. The Michigan Constitution explains the “commission shall conduct all of its business at open meetings.”
Following the secret gathering of the commission, the lawsuit was filed by multiple news outlets in order to secure greater transparency. However, the group continued to conceal its discussions and multiple redistricting-related memos, arguing its communications were protected by attorney-client privilege.
The ruling from the court outlined that the constitutional mandate for transparency overcomes the claim of attorney-client privilege.
“While such advice might otherwise be privileged as a communication from an attorney, any such privilege must yield to the requirement in Const 1963, art 4, § 6(10) that the commission ‘conduct all of its business at open meetings.'” one section of the 61-page opinion stated.
Members of the media and residents of the state celebrated the decision from the court:
“The Redistricting Commission broke the law to hide its work from Michigan voters. The Supreme Court declared today that commissioners won’t get away with it. The first step towards restoring the integrity of the map-drawing process is for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson or Chair Rebecca Szetela to immediately release the memos and secret recordings they tried to hide from the public,” said Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs.
“There must be consequences for violating the law. Accountability won’t happen until the Commission fires and replaces the attorneys who told them to illegally hide their work from the public,” she added.
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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Judge Viviano” by Judge Viviano. Background Photo “Michigan Supreme Court” by Subterranean. CC BY-SA 3.0.