Michigan Supreme Court – Mothering Justice v. Nessel Amicus Brief Filed

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On Friday, our faculty co-directors Miriam Seifter and Rob Yablon submitted an amicus brief with other legal scholars in the Michigan Supreme Court. The case, Mothering Justice v. Nessel, has big implications for direct democracy. The issue is whether the Michigan Legislature can thwart a ballot initiative by adopting an initiative proposal, which prevents the initiative from going to the voters, and then immediately amending the law so it doesn’t operate as its proponents intended. In July 2022, a state trial court held that the “adopt & amend” tactic violates the Michigan Constitution—specifically Art. 2, Sec. 9, in which the people of Michigan reserved to themselves the power to propose, enact, & reject laws through the initiative & referendum. In January 2023, the state court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, ruling that state constitution does not prohibit the “adopt & amend” maneuver. The plaintiffs quickly appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. The amicus brief urges the Michigan Supreme Court to reverse the court of appeals decision and hold that “adopt & amend” contravenes the Michigan Constitution’s core commitment to democracy. It notes that courts in other states have rejected similar tactics.