Advance Notice: Briefs

Supreme Court doesn’t take up guns at polls case before Election Day

By: - November 2, 2020 6:41 pm

Second Amendment March at the Capitol, Sept. 17, 2020 | Laina G. Stebbins

A lower court decision to strike down Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s directive banning firearms from polling places will stand, after the Michigan Supreme Court failed to review the order in time for Election Day on Tuesday.

Nessel had submitted an emergency application for leave to appeal on Thursday, with a request for expedited relief no later than 10 a.m. Monday. The court, which is split 4-3 in favor of GOP-nominated justices, did not take action on the request.

“Though I am disappointed that the Supreme Court hasn’t provided guidance in advance of Election Day, it does not change the fact that voter intimidation is still illegal in Michigan,” said Nessel, a Democrat, in a statement Monday night. “Those who attempt to deter or interfere with someone trying to exercise the fundamental right to vote will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Benson’s Oct. 16 rule, which would have prohibited the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of polling locations on Tuesday, faced a consolidated legal challenge by activist Robert Davis and several pro-gun organizations over its constitutionality. A Court of Claims judge ruled against the ban and the Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

“Voters can go to the polls tomorrow confident that safety is our top priority,” Benson said Monday. “The bottom line is that voter intimidation is illegal under state and federal law. As the Court of Appeals confirmed, anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm is committing a felony. The Attorney General and I are working with law enforcement to ensure the law is followed statewide.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. 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.