Supreme Court Hears Arguments for 4 Ballot Proposals

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Chief Justice Robert Young, Jr. called Thursday's Supreme Court proceedings a "blizzard of proposals," something they've never seen before.

Four proposals, eight arguments, and it all took about three hours.

"There are a lot of proposals, and I think that everyone here is trying to take the initiative process seriously," said Michigan Alliance for Prosperity spokesperson, Amy Hagerstrom. "As a citizen, I feel that maybe the process isn't as clear as it should be."

The justices heard from both sides of four issues that could go on the ballot: one for collective bargaining rights, one that would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise taxes, another to build eight new casinos, and finally, one that would ask voters if they want a new bridge to Canada. All very different proposals, but the arguments all boil down to the same thing.

"There are legal requirements, both constitutional and statutory that control the whole petitioning process, and they have to be met," said Peter Ellsworth, attorney for Protect MI Constitution, the group that opposes the casino proposal.

In other words, opponents argue the proposals didn't include all the changes they would make to the Constitution, and voters don't know what they'd actually be voting for. Supporters say they got the required number of signatures, and they feel their language is clear.

"We went out in good faith, we collected 521,000 signatures that were validated by the bureau of elections," Hagerstrom said. "We're very confident the Supreme Court will agree with us."

No matter which way they rule, everyone can recognize this was an important day for voters.

"I think these are important issues," Ellsworth said. "Keep in mind, the Court has never had this many Constitutional amendment proposal, not in my lifetime at least."

It's unknown when the Supreme Court will rule, but the Secretary of State hopes it's soon. Ballots need to start being printed Sept. 7.


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