Michigan Pride, June 15, 2019 | Susan J. Demas
The Michigan Supreme Court will bypass the Court of Appeals to hear arguments on a key LGBTQ civil rights case.
In an order dated Friday that was released on Saturday, the high court said it will hear the appeal of Rouch World LLC v. Department of Civil Rights. The case will effectively determine whether Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act includes non-discrimination protections for LGBTQs.
Rouch World is a venue in Sturgis that refused to hold a same-sex wedding, citing the owners’ religious beliefs. A Court of Claims decision held that the law applies to gender identity but not sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court order was issued 4-3, with the court’s three GOP-nominated justices, Elizabeth Clement, David Viviano and Brian Zahra, dissenting. For the first time in more than a decade, the court has a Democratic-nominated majority.
In her dissent, Clement said the court last year declined to bypass the lower court with a challenge to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act to issue health orders to stop the spread of COVID-19. Clement argued that case involved the “civil rights of all Michigan residents could indirectly be litigated.”
The high court invited the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union, Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center, Equality Michigan, Freedom for All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Detroit, National Center for Lesbian Rights, OutCenter of Southwest Michigan, OutFront Kalamazoo, Ruth Ellis Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Stand With Trans and Trans Sistas of Color Project to file amicus briefs.
Briefs are to be filed by Oct. 25 and oral arguments will be scheduled for 20 minutes apiece.
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