Constitution schmonstitution, part eleventy billion
When I wrote about Michigan Republicans being put under a restraining order to keep them from violating the state constitution a few days ago, I wrote, “It will be interesting to see if the Republicans are so intent on betraying the state constitution that they appeal to the appeals court.”
Turns out they ARE and they have.
Not only that, they are being represented by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Republicans in the state House have asked the state Court of Appeals to strike down an injunction issued earlier this week that impaired their authority to give immediate effect to legislation and nullified immediate effect for several recently approved statutes, including one that blocked the unionization of university graduate assistants. [...]
In the appeal filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette, Republicans argue that Canady’s order was an impermissible judicial intrusion on legislative authority. The Constitution, long-standing tradition and prior court rulings give the House nearly unfettered discretion to operate by their own rules, according to documents filed with the appeals court.
According to MLive, “House Republicans called the lawsuit ‘frivolous’ and an ‘attack on the constitutional autonomy” of the House.’ The comical part is House Speaker Jase Bolger’s commentary (via his spokesperson Ari Adler):
Last week’s ruling in Ingham County Circuit Court was an overreach of judicial authority into the day-to-day operations of a co-equal and independent branch of government, which is why we have sought to have it overturned.
The Speaker believes the attorney general has made a compelling argument to help us right the wrong imposed on the Michigan Legislature and the constituents we represent.
The idea that forcing the GOP to obey the rules is somehow an “overreach” is positively absurd. Like laugh-in-your-face absurd, actually. In order for a law to take “immediate effect”, it has to receive 2/3 of the vote of the House. Here’s the rub: Republicans do not make up 2/3 of the House. And Democrats are not voting with them. That’s why they are doing the voice vote rather than the roll call vote; they’d never get it passed otherwise.
Again from MLive:
Two-thirds of the House must support giving it immediate effect, but Republicans do not comprise 2/3 of the chamber. House Democrats argued that House Republicans violated the state Constitution, which requires a “record of the vote and name of the members of either house voting on any question shall be entered in the journal” if 20 percent of the House requests such a vote.
The Democrats are, as you might expect, outraged. House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel issued the following statement:
That House Republicans have filed an appeal is not a surprise, but their spokesperson characterizing Judge Canady’s order protecting the constitutional rights of Michigan citizens as judicial overreach is quite surprising. Although, it does come from the same person who has said – even before the appeal was filed – that the Judge’s order would not change anything about the way the House operates. I would have thought he would show more respect for the judicial process.
My caucus has worked through every avenue to get the majority to recognize the rights of our constituents to fair representation under the Michigan Constitution. Again, it is unfortunate that it has taken legal action to get us to this point. If the leadership of the House is concerned about the cost of this matter, they can just agree to follow the constitution and the suit goes away, or they can follow our lead and finance their defense without the use of state dollars.
The other night when Rachel Maddow talked about this, she called Michigan’s Republican problem “epic”. I’m inclined to agree.