Michigan Supreme Court Upholds 3 of 4 Proposals to Amend Michigan’s Constitution

In a very thorough opinion (attached below), especially considering that oral argument was just presented on August 30th, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld three of four rulings by the Court of Appeals allowing the placement of proposed constitutional amendments on the November 2012 ballot.

The opinion upholds the proposals to amend the Constitution by popular vote through the procedures authorized by Michigan Const. 1963, art. 12, sec. 2.  The four proposals would amend the Constitution to (1) constitutionally “enshrine” the right of collective bargaining; (2) require the decision to construct a new bridge between Michigan and Canada to be submitted to popular vote; (3) require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or a vote of the people before any tax increase can be approved; and (4) allow for the construction of eight new casinos in Michigan and designate their locations.

The latter amendment proposed to require the casinos be granted liquor licenses.  This provision was the only one that was struck down by the Court because of the technicality that such an amendment would remove the constitutional authority granted to the liquor control commission to grant liquor licenses.  As such, the proposed amendment would have abrogated an existing constitutional provision; specifically, Mich. Const. 1963, art. 4, sec. 40, because that provision gives to the commission “complete control” of the “alcoholic beverage traffic” in Michigan.  Thus, the proposed “casino amendment” failed to include the republication of art. 4, sec. 40, which was subject to abrogation as required by the procedures of art. 12, sec. 2.

The majority opinion was authored by Justice Zahra.  It was joined by Justices Mary Beth Kelly, Young, and Markman.  Justices Marilyn Kelly, Cavanagh and Hathaway concurred in that part of the majority opinion concerning the first three proposals, i.e., the “collective bargaining” amendment, the “bridge” amendment, and the “2/3 or popular vote to raise taxes” amendment.  However, they dissented from the Court’s decision concerning the fourth proposal; the “casino” amendment.  The dissent reasoned that the liquor control commission’s control over alcoholic beverages was neither complete nor exclusive, but subject to limits the Legislature might place upon it concerning the traffic of alcoholic beverages in Michigan.  The dissent reasoned that if the Legislature could place limits on the liquor commission’s authority, then so too could the people.  Thus, the dissent concluded, in this regard, that the proposed amendment did not abrogate an existing constitutional provision and did not fail on the technicality that the initial proposal did not include the text of the  provision the majority concluded would be abrogated by the “casino” amendment.

This is a very informative opinion, which is especially prescient in light of the upcoming election and in light of recent movements concerning the power and significance of state constitutions in our federalist system of government.

Read the opinion here:  Protect Our Jobs Opinions

About cjtucker06

Owner of law firm since July 2014; Handles all types of appellate matters and assists other lawyers with complex litigation and insurance coverage issues; Admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Bar of Michigan; Expertise in prosecuting and defending appeals with several significant successes in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals; Author of briefs amicus curiae in the Michigan Supreme Court for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel and the Insurance Institute of Michigan; Represents Insurance Companies, Major International Business, Governmental Entities, Law Enforcement Officers and County Sheriffs. Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Military - Retired Major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the United States Army, Brigade Judge Advocate and Staff JAG officer for the Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling, Michigan; Recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal (the highest medal of honor available to Soldiers serving in non-combat roles); 2012 Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, at The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia. United States Navy Reserves, Combat Warfare Qualification, January 1989 to July 2003 Former law clerk to Justice Stephen J. Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, Research Attorney, Michigan Court of Appeals. Insurance Coverage Associate Plunkett Cooney; Environmental Law Attorney at Squire Sanders, now Squire Patton Boggs; Master's Degree in Environmental Law; Environmental Law Scholar, ALI/ABA Washington, D.C., Juris Doctorate, Vermont Law School, Environmental Editor, Vermont Law Review; Treasurer and Finalist, Moot Court Advisory Board.
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