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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Judicial Showdown This Week

  Judicial Showdown This Week
      Pull up a comfy chair. This will be fun to watch.
      The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is fixin to nip in the bud the much-publicized phantom effort by organized labor to "hijack" the state constitution as one chamber honcho puts it.
      The Chamber will ask the state appellate court this week to kill the so-called Reform Michigan Government Now petition drive even before they count petition signatures that the RMGN filed to put the question on the November ballot.
      Bob LaBrant claims the attempt to rewrite the constitution is itself unconstitutional.  His side will tell the three-judge panel that it is perfectly legal to rec onstruction an amendment to state law, but if you want to rewrite more than one segment, you need a constitutional convention.  Clearly this RMGN beast goes beyond one section…way beyond.
      The case seems opened and closed, cut and dry, and call in the next case airtight.  But pause for just a second.
      Is it conceivable that the backers of this thing sat in a room, drafted a nine page proposal, spent over a million smackers to
collect signatures, but yet filed to grasp the obvious that it was illegal?
      Put another way, it would be like spending $100,000 on your kid's higher education knowing that they only have the intelligence to be a capitol reporter. Why bother?
      Which is the question we ponder here on the eve of this judicial challenge.
      Was there a hidden political agenda?
      Did organized labor have nothing better to do with the million bucks?
      Or do they honest to goodness believe this wholesale rewrite of state law is legal?
      Bring some snacks along with the comfy chair; this may take some time to sort out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

typical michigan politics-probably would make the economy even worse-except maybe detroit!

July 21, 2008 at 7:35 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The State Constitution's amendment and revision provision is Article XII. Did you read it?

Section 1 applies to legislative amendments.

Section 3 requires periodic submission of a referendum on a constitutional convention.

Section 4 does not apply.

Section 2 does not address the scope of any amendment. The originalist who control the State Supreme Court can find no help here whatsoever. It says:

§ 2 Amendment by petition and vote of electors.

Sec. 2.

Amendments may be proposed to this constitution by petition of the registered electors of this state. Every petition shall include the full text of the proposed amendment, and be signed by registered electors of the state equal in number to at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected. Such petitions shall be filed with the person authorized by law to receive the same at least 120 days before the election at which the proposed amendment is to be voted upon. Any such petition shall be in the form, and shall be signed and circulated in such manner, as prescribed by law. The person authorized by law to receive such petition shall upon its receipt determine, as provided by law, the validity and sufficiency of the signatures on the petition, and make an official announcement thereof at least 60 days prior to the election at which the proposed amendment is to be voted upon.

Any amendment proposed by such petition shall be submitted, not less than 120 days after it was filed, to the electors at the next general election. Such proposed amendment, existing provisions of the constitution which would be altered or abrogated thereby, and the question as it shall appear on the ballot shall be published in full as provided by law. Copies of such publication shall be posted in each polling place and furnished to news media as provided by law.

The ballot to be used in such election shall contain a statement of the purpose of the proposed amendment, expressed in not more than 100 words, exclusive of caption. Such statement of purpose and caption shall be prepared by the person authorized by law, and shall consist of a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the amendment in such language as shall create no prejudice for or against the proposed amendment.

If the proposed amendment is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, it shall become part of the constitution, and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the constitution at the end of 45 days after the date of the election at which it was approved. If two or more amendments approved by the electors at the same election conflict, that amendment receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

That does not allow substantive review of the amendment from an originalist point of view. If the drafters wanted substantive review -- they would have said so.
It asks for review of "the validity and sufficiency of the signatures on the petition."

Clifford Taylor is put into the box here politically and legally in a year in which he is seeking re-election. If he takes up review of the substantive aspects of the proposal he is defying 500,000 petition signers and his own style of legal interpretation. Nothing but nothing in the the state constitution bars this proposal from the voters.

Oh, obviously, if he gets involved, he has to rule before the November election, in which he is seeking re-election. No matter how he votes, if the issue is presented to him, he loses big time. His phony originalist stance gets exposed to ridicule and he to humiliation as the self-serving politican he was when appointed by John Engler and remains so today.

July 21, 2008 at 12:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest you read Strunk and White and learn that the breezy writing style you seem to fall into is just dumb and often offensive. You are such a good reporter. You could be such a better writer. I have a copy I can share with you.

July 21, 2008 at 12:44 PM 

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