Advance Notice: Briefs

Abortion rights coalition files suit in Michigan Supreme Court to put question on Nov. ballot

By: - September 2, 2022 9:07 am

John L. Micek/States Newsroom

On Thursday afternoon, one of the two constitutional amendment proposals rejected by the Board of State Canvassers took to the courts as Promote the Vote 2022 challenged the matter before the Michigan Supreme Court.

The second proposal, Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA), later followed suit.

“This case presents a straightforward issue for this Court to decide — can the Board of State Canvassers disenfranchise over 753,759 Michiganders by avoiding their clear legal duty to certify the Petition proposed by Reproductive Freedom for All when the Petition has collected well beyond the requisite signatures and meets all statutory form of petition requirements? This Court’s precedent says no,” reads the 23-page filing submitted by RFFA lawyers Thursday night.

The RFFA coalition seeks to amend the Michigan Constitution to ensure Michiganders’ right to make and carry out decisions relating to pregnancy, including abortion, birth control, prenatal care and childbirth.

The petition came to fruition after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, making the right to abortion no longer federally guaranteed. Michigan currently has a 1931 law criminalizing abortion on the books, but it is temporarily halted as two court cases continue litigation.

RFFA submitted more than the required number of valid signatures and was recommended by the Bureau of Elections for approval by the board.

Despite this, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked along party lines Wednesday on whether to place it on the November ballot. A challenging group had argued there is a disqualifying spacing error in the petition.

The board’s two Republicans, Richard Houskamp and Tony Daunt, found the argument persuasive and voted against approving the petition. Democrats Mary Ellen Gurewitz and Jeanette Bradshaw voted for the ballot proposal.

A deadlock among the four-person panel means in practice that the petition is rejected.

The Secretary of State’s deadline to certify general election ballots for county clerks is 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The RFFA coalition requests that the Michigan Supreme Court expeditiously rule on the matter by Wednesday.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).