|Justice is served in Michigan
Members of AFSCME Council 25 in Detroit deliver petitions in February for a ballot initiative to repeal a law allowing unelected “emergency managers” to nullify collective bargaining agreements. (Photo: Ben Needham)
The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 in favor of putting the citizens’ veto of Public Act 4, the state’s ‘local dictators’ law, onto the November ballot. As a result of the ruling, the anti-democratic law that has given state-appointed emergency financial managers complete authority over municipal governments will be suspended until the public votes on it this fall.
Earlier this year, the AFSCME-led Stand Up for Democracy coalition submitted more than 200,000 signatures to get a citizens’ veto PA 4 on the November ballot. In what should have been a routine approval hearing, the state canvassing board initially blocked ballot access, citing a legal technicality regarding the font size printed on the petitions.
Stand Up for Democracy attorney Herb Sanders argued that the petitions fit the letter of the law. He also urged the doubtful justices to rule that they were substantially compliant, or else they would “deny individuals their constitutional rights based upon the width of a dime.”
In the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling, Republican Justice Mary Beth Kelly wrote in the opinion that the Stand Up for Democracy petitions fully complied with the letter of the law. “It is clear that the point size of all the required text refers to the size of the type and not the individual letters,” said Kelly in the majority opinion.
It is now vital for AFSCME and our allies in Stand Up for Democracy to shift into the second phase of the campaign. According to a recent poll, support for the citizens’ veto is lagging by 10 points behind support for the law—but more than a quarter of Michigan voters are still undecided. In that same group of voters, support for a collective bargaining constitutional amendment is at 44 percent. It is up to AFSCME members to bring our friends, family, neighbors and communities up to speed on these local dictators and win their support for the citizens’ veto as well.
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