Michigan Supreme Court Keeps "Reform Michigan Now" Initiative Off the Ballot

Today, a divided Michigan Supreme Court today upheld the Court of Appeals decision to bar the so-called Reform Michigan Government Now proposal from going before voters in November. The Court found that multi-faceted proposal could not be considered as a singular ballot initiative. The ruling (not yet available on the Court’s website) was reported by both the Lansing State Journal and the Detroit Free Press. A great summary of the defunct proposal appears on the website of the conservative Mackinaw Center for Law and Public Policy. Their website even includes a summary prepared by the UAW. Michigan State University has also posted a great summary, including many of the source documents.

The Supreme Court majority consisting of Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Justices Michael Cavanagh, Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman, Elizabeth Weaver and Robert Young Jr. -- said the Reform Michigan Government Now proposal to enact three dozen constitutional changes, including pay cuts for elected officials, reductions in the size of the Legislature and appellate judiciary, and changes in redistricting rules, was too broad to be addressed by the amendment process and could not be adequately explained on the ballot in 100 words as required. Justice Marilyn Kelly dissented, suggesting the court was leaving open to question the standards for future proposed amendments.

The Reform Michigan Government Now proposal, drafted and supported by top state Democratic Party insiders, was challenged by a group of elected officials and interest groups led by the state Chamber of Commerce. According to an internal Reform Michigan Government Now memo inadvertently released to the public, the proposal was viewed by Democratic Party officials as the most cost-effective way for the party to gain control of all three branches of state government. The Reform Michigan Now Official website has not been updated to reflect the Court’s ruling.