Desperation breeds desperation
Last Friday, the Detroit Free Press published a blistering editorial condemning the Michigan Court of Appeals judges who ruled to delay a decision on the font size issue related to the petitions to put the repeal of Emergency Manager Law — Public Act 4 — on the November ballot. The editorial, titled “Stall tactics bring shame on court” holds nothing back.
Delay is the time-honored refuge of lawyers who know they are holding a losing hand. But when ostensibly nonpartisan judges postpone justice for the sole purpose of advancing their own party’s political interests, their actions invite contempt for the entire judicial process.
That’s precisely what three Republican state Court of Appeals judges did Friday when they properly struck down a cynical challenge to the voter referendum on Michigan’s controversial emergency manager law, but then delayed the ruling’s implementation in a transparently political effort to frustrate the referendum campaign. [...]
We’ve opposed efforts to repeal PA 4, but we’re satisfied that those seeking a referendum on the law have met the legal requirements to place the issue before voters. So we were troubled when two Republicans on the state Board of Canvassers refused to certify the measure on the specious grounds that the typeface in which the petitions were printed failed to meet the legal type size prescribed by Michigan law. [...]
[I]nstead of simply applying the law, all three judges expressed the wish that they could ignore the inconvenient precedent and invited a larger panel of Court of Appeals judges to overturn it. So much for impartiality.
If those seeking to block the initiative think the law controlling the case is wrong, they should appeal to the state Supreme Court. The only point of creating an intermediate appellate hurdle is to frustrate the petitioners.
The full Court of Appeals should waste no time in ordering the state to enforce the will of 225,000 Michiganders who’ve clearly signaled their desire for an up-or-down vote on PA 4. Respect for the rule of law will brook no more stall tactics.
Let’s review the facts:
- The printer who printed the petitions has signed a sworn Printer’s Affidavit that the font is the correct size.
- Typography experts across the state have ruled that the font is the correct size including one commissioned by the Bureau of Elections whose testimony never saw the light of day.
- Even if there was a minor deficiency in the font size, which there is NOT, precedent was set 30 years ago in our state to rule in favor of allowing citizens to vote in situations where there is substantial compliance with the law.
- Three judges on the Court of Appeals, all appointed by Republican governors, have now taken it upon themselves to reject 30 years of precedent.
- The deadline for certifying the petitions is August 27th so further delays jeopardize meeting that deadline.
This isn’t just an effort to “frustrate the petitioners” as the Free Press editorial suggests. It’s an all out effort to drag it out for so long that the decision becomes moot.
Keep in mind what we are talking about here. Nearly a quarter million Michiganders spoke and signed a petition. Their voices are being silenced because of three words on the petition: “REFERENDUM OF LEGISLATION”
That’s it. The rest of the petition is compliant. In fact these three words are compliant. This is a rigged game being controlled by people who control everything and all the rest of us can do is stand by why they have their way with our state constitution and the very idea of citizen-based democracy.
Hey, Tea Party. Where the hell are YOU??? Where are all of the constitution-worshipping conservatives in Michigan on this issue?
The Stand Up for Democracy coalition who gathered the signatures is not done. They are making plans for direct, sustained, continuous action.
A planning meeting will take place this Friday, June 15 at 10:00 A.M. at Fellowship Chapel located at 7707 W. Outer Drive in Detroit. The planning will involve strategy for occupying the lobby and outside of the old GM Building/Cadillac Place. It is time for Direct Action to get enough political and media pressure to get the Court of Appeals to move and move now.
The conservatives and corporate interests that stand to benefit the most from keeping Public Act 4 on the books are now desperate. Their desperation is leading them to do desperate things like this — thwarting the law and the constitution to maintain their power.
But, desperation breeds desperation. There will come a time when people have had enough and will decide that the rigged game must be stopped. If they aren’t allowed to participate in the game, they will take other measures. Desperate measures.
That day may soon arrive and we still have a long, hot summer in front of us.
[Vote sticker CC image credit: Blood for Oil
Petition image credit: Chris Savage | Eclectablog]