An organization calling itself “Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution” (CPMC) is seeking to block the “Voters Not Politicians” ballot proposal from appearing on the statewide ballot this fall.
CPMC claims that, while Michigan citizens have the authority to initiate amendments to the state Constitution, they are not allowed to make massive revisions to the basic charter in a single proposal. Accordingly, with a 34-page brief, CPMC filed suit in the state Court of Appeals Wednesday (April 25) to stop VNP from getting on the ballot.
CPMC gives the following as reasons why VNP violates Michigan law and should be blocked from the ballot:
- The proposal is a massive revision of the Michigan Constitution and not an amendment. This Constitution does not allow for such sweeping changes to be made by a single ballot initiative. In 2008, a partisan proposal containing similar language was supported by a group dubbed “Reform Michigan Government Now” (RMGN). That proposal also was launched by an initiative petition drive and would have established a new legislative redistricting commission and transferred power over redistricting to the commission and away from the Legislature. When challenged in court, the state appellate court held that the revisions posited by the ballot proposal were too fundamentally disruptive to state government to be submitted to the voters as an initiated amendment. On appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a bi-partisan decision, affirmed the appellate ruling.
- The VNP petition fails to mention all the provisions of the 1963 Constitution that would be nullified, as required by law. These provisions concern free speech, the jurisdiction of the courts, oaths of office required by holders of state office, and the manner in which state funds are to be appropriated and spent.
- The VNP proposal puts one single partisan elected official (Secretary of State) in control of the redistricting commission.
- VNP fundamentally changes the power and authority of all three branches of state government. VNP eliminates the roles of the legislative and executive branches of government and minimizes the role of the judiciary in redistricting.
- The VNP language insists that redistricting be based on “communities of interest” and “political fairness,” but offers no definition of what is meant by either of those terms. Moreover, it relegates to minor status a redistricting requirement included in every Michigan Constitution since 1815 — county and municipal boundaries.
- The VNP proposal would add more than 3,000 words to the existing Constitution, while deleting more than 1,400 words. If approved by the voters, this would be the largest-ever one-time change to the Constitution since it was adopted in 1963.
- The VNP proposal would eliminate the peoples’ own Constitutional right to challenge or change by initiative or referendum what the VNP redistricting commission draws up.”The delegates to the 1963 Constitution wanted their Constitution to endure. They wanted major changes to be made only after careful study and a meaningful opportunity for voters to fully appreciate the full scope of these changes,” says Bob LaBrant, of counsel to the CPMC. “The VNP proposal is at odds with this historical commitment to a full and fair hearing on the core questions that affect us all. The courts exist to protect and uphold the Constitution. All these are reasons why we’re filing our action against VNP.”