Mich. Supreme Court Rules to Allow Vote on Emergency Manager Law

Yahoo Contributor Network

In a narrow 4-3 ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court on Friday decided that an initiative to put the repeal of the state's emergency manager law on the November ballot should go forward, according to the Associated Press and other media outlets. The petitions submitted by organizers to the Board of State Canvassers had been challenged over whether or not they utilized the proper size font. The measure now goes back to the Board of State Canvassers to be certified and placed on the November ballot.

The Michigan Supreme Court is GOP-controlled, with four Republican justices on the bench versus three Democrats. Judge Mary Beth Kelly, one of the four Republican justices, sided with the three Democratic judges in ruling that the petitioners had used the proper font size and that the documents were therefore valid.

Here is some of the key information to emerge from the Michigan Supreme Court's ruling and its immediate aftermath.

* In writing the majority opinion, Judge Kelly said that "This case well demonstrates that tension between constitutional interests: the right to a republican form of government versus a constitutional process that allows a small minority to suspend the enactments of that government," as quoted by the Associated Press.

* The other three judges who voted to allow the measure to go forward were: Judge Michael Cavanaugh, Judge Marilyn Kelly and Judge Diane Hathaway, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press.

* The measure was put forward by a group dubbed "Stand Up for Democracy." The opposition to the measure is being led by a group named "Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility."

* Critics of Public Act 4, the state's emergency manager law, maintain that it is "anti-democratic and takes away voting rights," as stated by the Detroit Free Press.

* Proponents of the law, including Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, have said that Public Act 4 contains "early warning systems" necessary to identify which cities need to implement reforms before an emergency manager becomes necessary, as quoted by the Free Press.

* Marcia McBrien, who is a spokeswoman for the Michigan Supreme Court, noted that it took the justices only nine days to hear and decide the case, which she said illustrated "that the court appreciated the seriousness of this issue and its urgency," as quoted by the Detroit News.

* There are seven emergency managers currently in power in different parts of the state. Four cities -- Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse, and Benton Harbor -- are being run by emergency managers, as are three school districts --Detroit, Highland Park, and Muskegon Heights.

* Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who earlier this year signed a consent agreement with the state rather than have the city taken over by an emergency manager of its own, issued a statement to the media following the justices' decision. In it he said that the city would still be bound by the terms of its Financial Stability Act (FSA), and that the financial advisory board overseeing the city's fiscal decision-making process would remain.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

View Comments