Mich. AG against collective bargaining ballot proposal

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 21, 2012, 2:30pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, along with Gov. Rick Snyder, has joined the battle against a union-backed proposal that would add the right to collective bargaining for public and private sector employees to the state constitution.

On Monday, the attorney general submitted a brief to the state Court of Appeals arguing that the Protect Our Jobs initiative is a "startling end-run on the legislative and referendum processes," according to MLive.com.

In his brief, Schuette said the proposal would "eviscerate" provisions of the state constitution and more than 170 state statutes.

Both Schuette and Snyder are trying to keep the Protect Our Jobs proposal off the state's November ballot.

The measure has not been adequately described to those signing petitions or those potential voters, they argue.

According to an order filed Thursday, the Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Each side, the court wrote, will be given 30 minutes to present their arguments.

The court will then decide whether the proposal should be placed on the ballot.

The action comes after the state Board of Canvassers deadlocked last week over whether to certify the question.

In the 2-2 vote, GOP board members sided with the attorney general, also a Republican.

But Protect Our Jobs -- a campaign supported by unions representing nurses, firefighters, police officers and teachers -- contends Schuette's opinion was "politically motivated" and "faulty."

"The initiative meets all legal requirements. The attorney general's role is to represent the state in legal matters, not interfere with ballot proposals," Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for Protect Our Jobs, said in a statement last week.

"There is no legal reason this ballot proposal should not be placed before voters on Nov. 6."

The campaign says Schuette's opinion flies in the face of a ruling he made in 2004, when he was a Court of Appeals judge.

At the time, he rejected an argument from the Coalition to Protect Affirmative Action that is similar to his opinion on the Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal, the campaign argues.

Protect Our Jobs had hoped to bypass the appeals court and take its challenge directly to the state Supreme Court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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