Michigan court stymies government overhaul proposal

Chris Rizo Sep. 9, 2008, 11:33am

Michigan Supreme Court building

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-- A proposed ballot measure that would cut judges' salaries and reduce the number of top-level jurists and trim the size of the state Legislature will not be on the Michigan ballot in November, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Last month, a three-judge appeals court panel threw the proposal backed by Reform Michigan Government Now off the ballot, saying the proposal was a "general revision" of the state constitution that had to be considered in a constitutional convention.

On Monday, the state's high court affirmed the decision 6-1.

Voting against having the proposal on the ballot were Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Justices Michael Cavanagh, Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman, Elizabeth Weaver and Robert Young Jr. Justice Marilyn Kelly dissented.

Critics have charged that the measure has several unrelated questions within it and therefore violates the single question rule for ballot proposals.

If the measure had been allowed on the ballot and passed, the Supreme Court's two junior members -- Markman and Young -- would have lost their seats Dec. 20. The ballot proposal would also eliminate seven appeals court judgeships while adding to judges at the circuit court level.

The proposed ballot initiative also sought to reduce the salaries of legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state by 25 percent, and limit retirement benefits for those elected officials to no more than what retired state employees receive.

Proponents also sought to reduce the size of the state Senate from 38 seats to 28, while seats in the House would have gone from 110 to 82 seats.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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