Federal judge rejects GOP lawmaker suit over state election laws

By Michigan Advance

April 11, 2024

BY KEN COLEMAN, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit brought by 11 Republican state legislators who sought to challenge the constitutionality of election laws that were approved by Michigan voters in recent years.

Jane Beckering of Michigan’s Western District, a 2021 Biden administration-nominated judge, handed down a 13-page order.

“Plaintiffs’ asserted injury—the deprivation of the power to cast a binding vote—is neither concrete nor particularized because it is shared by every single member of the Michigan Legislature,” Beckering wrote.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 28, 2023 was brought by State Sens. Jonathan Lindsey (R-Coldwater) and James Runestad (R-White Lake); and Reps. James DeSana (R-Carleton), Rachelle Smit (R-Martin), Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Joseph Fox (R-Fremont), Matt Maddock (R-Milford), Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia), Josh Schriver (R-Oxford), Neil Friske (R-Petoskey) and Brad Paquette (R-Niles). The legislators sought to challenge the constitutionality of Michigan’s voter-initiated amendments to the state constitution as the process applies to election laws impacting federal elections. They brought the suit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Jonathan Brater, the state’s elections director.

They argued that because the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 4) provides for state legislatures to regulate the times, places, and manner of holding federal elections, the measures, which were passed by citizen-led petition initiatives, are unconstitutional as they infringe on the state Legislature’s role within state election law.

Proposal 3 of 2018 and Proposal 2 of 2022 both passed with at least 60% of the vote and guaranteed the rights to same-day voter registration, nine days of early voting, absentee voting, among other rights. Since voters approved the constitutional amendments, the Legislature passed legislation implementing the measures.

Attorney General Dana Nessel argued the legislators lacked standing to bring the lawsuit in their capacities as legislators, taxpayers, or as voters.

“This lawsuit was absurd and baseless from its inception, and I am glad the Court saw the plaintiffs obvious lack of standing,” said Nessel. “Our democracy is participatory, and in Michigan citizen initiatives and referendums have long played a vital role in making our state government better reflect the values of our people. I am proud to stand up for democracy in Michigan, and will robustly defend our voters’ rights to their own constitution, and to work democratically to create the State and future they dream of.”

READ MORE: Michigan fake elector case points to nationwide effort to keep Trump in office

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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