Advance Notice: Briefs

Supreme Court to hear ballot measure restriction case in March

By: - February 15, 2020 10:36 am

Michigan Supreme Court, March 22, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday announced it will hear oral arguments next month on a 2018 Republican law that clamps down on the process for citizen-led ballot initiatives.

Arguments are scheduled for March 11 in League of Women Voters v. Secretary of State. In 2018, three progressive ballot measures passed. During Lame Duck, Republicans sought to tighten the process and passed legislation that said no more than 15% of signatures for citizen-led petitions can come from a single congressional district. Then-Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law.

The Court of Appeals last month chucked the 15% cap, as well as other provisions.

“Setting a 15% geographic limitation serves to take power out of the hands of the people and requires, in essence, a pre-vote of agreement in a certain number of congressional districts as to whether or not a matter should be put to a general vote. This places the cart before the horse and unduly burdens the initiative and petition process,” the judges wrote.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 90 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.