Daily Briefs

High court strikes law to make petition drives harder

DETROIT (AP) — An effort by Republicans to make it harder to change Michigan law through petition drives was declared unconstitutional Monday by the state Supreme Court.

The court struck down a 15% geographic cap on the number of signatures that could be collected to get an issue on the statewide ballot. It would have forced petition circulators to focus on more than just highly populated areas.

That portion of the 2018 law conflicts with the Michigan Constitution, the court said. 

“It would run directly contrary to the clear intention that nothing more than a minimum number of signatures from the statewide population is necessary to propose changes to Michigan’s laws,” Justice Megan Cavanagh wrote.

The court also nixed a requirement that people who are paid to collect signatures must register with the state. The court, however, said it’s OK to require circulators to indicate on a petition whether they’re being paid.

The changes were made by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, before he left office at the end of 2018.

The law was passed after voters used direct democracy at the ballot box to change how maps are drawn for the Legislature and Congress; make it easier to vote; and legalize marijuana. 

All seven justices found problems with putting a cap on the percentage of petition signatures from each congressional district, although Brian Zahra and David Viviano said a restriction at least when trying to amend the constitution should remain legal.

 

Assistant AG to speak about prosecuting domestic terrorism 

Sunita Doddamani, assistant attorney general and head of the Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit at the Michigan Department of Attorney General, will present “Prosecuting domestic terrorism in Michigan” on Thursday, January 27.

The event, hosted by Wayne State University Law School, will take place on Zoom from noon to 1:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to receive the Zoom details.

Doddamani, Wayne Law class of 2004, will discuss the creation of the Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit, Michigan’s unique Anti-Terrorism Act, how the Act is utilized by state prosecutors, jurisdictional considerations when charging these crimes, the rise of militia extremism and legal efforts to combat it. The talk will be moderated by Professor Gregory Fox, director of the Program for International Legal Studies and professor of law at Wayne Law.

To register for the event, visit go.wayne.edu/d88c48


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