Michigan redistricting committee rejects Pledge of Allegiance at meetings: 'Too divisive'

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A video obtained by Fox News shows the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission rejecting a request to start their meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance, with some members calling the pledge “divisive” and “contentious.” 

The first item of business on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s docket Thursday was a request by Commissioner Doug Clark to recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the group’s meetings to decide how both state and federal congressional districts would look in the state.

During the Zoom meeting, Commissioner Rebecca Sztetla said that when she traveled to other groups’ meetings, it was a “mixed bag” of whether they recited the pledge or not and that she doesn’t “see how that adds anything to the work of the commission.”

Sztetla also said she doesn’t see how the pledge “advances” the work of the committee and that reciting it will only “add time” to meetings.

“And then I also just think that it’s kind of odd that we’re not a federal board, we’re not a federal agency — we’re an independent commission of Michigan, not the federal government,” said Sztetla. “So why would we be pledging allegiance to the federal government? It just seems a little odd to me.”

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Sztetla then said that her “big” concern was that she feels the Pledge of Allegiance is “unnecessarily divisive.”

“And then my other concern – and this is really the big one – is I feel it’s unnecessarily divisive,” she said. “Especially if we’re going to be having public meetings where we’re starting out with the pledge.”

The commissioner pointed to the trend of some athletes and spectators “taking a knee” for the Pledge of Allegiance “or other patriotic acts with respect to the federal government” such as the national anthem.

“It’s just creating a divisive atmosphere before our public hearings, which I think is the last thing we want,” said Sztetla. “We want everyone to feel comfortable.”

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Commission Chair Brittni Kellom called the pledge “contentious” and said she would not lead it. Kellom was joined in rebuking the pledge by Democrat Commissioner Dustin Witjes, who said he “vehemently” disagreed with reciting the pledge.

The commission didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

According to the website, the commission “will be composed of 13 randomly selected Michigan registered voters: four who affiliate with the Democratic Party, four who affiliate with the Republican Party, and five who do not affiliate with either major political party.”

However, even though the commission works as an independent body, the commission hired attorney Bruce Adelson, who has donated to Democratic candidates in the past.

In a news release sent Friday, Ted Goodman, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, criticized the commission for hiring Adelson.

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“The Redistricting Commission must remain non-partisan as it conducts it’s work to re-evaluate legislative districts across Michigan,” said Goodman. “The Commission must re-evaluate this hire or bring on a second attorney to remove any perception of partisan, political bias.”

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After the Census every ten years, groups in each state meet to redraw legislative districts for both the state legislature and the state’s seats in Congress.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission website says the group is “responsible for drawing U.S. Congressional and Michigan State House and Senate district lines.”

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