“Changing the rules of politics in Michigan to help Democrats”

How to steal a state:

This November, voters in Michigan may be asked to consider a lengthy ballot initiative to revise the state’s constitution. Proposed by a group called Reform Michigan Government Now, the initiative’s ostensible purpose is to restore efficiency and accountability to Michigan government. A look at the fine print, and a recently disclosed strategy document, reveals something altogether different: A stealth campaign to restructure all three branches of government, including the state judiciary, for partisan advantage. . .

Buried in the text of the 19,500-word ballot initiative are provisions designed to shift partisan control of every branch of Michigan government, including the state courts. Among other things, the initiative would eliminate two seats on the Michigan supreme court and several more seats on the state Courts of Appeals. The constitutional revisions would also cut the size of the Michigan legislature, rewrite the standards for legislative districting, and adopt controversial election reforms, such as no-excuse absentee voting, which has the potential to increase voter fraud within the state. In all, the initiative would rewrite over two dozen provisions in the Michigan state constitution.

Proponents proclaim the ballot initiative is a bipartisan effort to improve Michigan government, but a recently disclosed strategy document revealed a more partisan agenda. According to a PowerPoint presentation drafted by political consultants working for initiative proponents, the ballot initiative’s primary virtue is its potential to hand control of Michigan government over to the Democratic party for at least a decade.

The presentation was delivered to a union leadership conference this past spring. A graduate student intern at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan-based free-market think tank, discovered the slides on the United Auto Workers Region 1-C website. This discovery revealed a breathtakingly cynical stealth campaign to rewrite the state constitution. As the title slide explains, the plan’s true purpose is “Changing the rules of politics in Michigan to help Democrats.”

Reform Michigan Government Now presents itself as a bipartisan good government initiative that seeks to make government more accountable and efficient. Yet according to the presentation, the real problem facing Michigan is not bloated or inefficient government, but the Democratic Party’s failure to control the state legislature and governor’s office.

In order to ensure pro-Democrat redistricting in 2011-12, the presentation explains, the Democratic party will need to control all three branches of government: the governor’s office, state legislature and the judiciary. According to one slide, control of the supreme court is the “most important,” as the court “can overturn redistricting” done by the political branches. It seems judicial oversight is a particular concern because the traditional state redistricting criteria, such as keeping communities together, are “systematically biased against Democrats.”

Most distressing, and revealing, is how the Reform Michigan Government Now plan “reforms” the state judiciary. Specifically, the ballot initiative selectively alters the composition of Michigan state courts at every level — trial courts, appellate courts, and the supreme court — each by a different standard. The only unifying theme is that each reform will increase the proportion of Democrat-appointed judges.

As in many states, Michigan’s supreme court justices are subject to re-election, giving court critics ample opportunity to seek change through traditional political means. But, the presentation explains, defeating incumbent justices would be costly and difficult. So, rather than promote candidates for the Court who would rubber stamp a pro-Democrat redistricting effort, and seek to have them elected fair and square, initiative proponents want to seize partisan control of the Court in one fell swoop by eliminating two seats and removing two Republican appointees from the Court. This is no accident, as the presentation makes clear when describing the relevant plank in the proposal: “Reduce the number of Supreme Court justices from seven to five; two GOP justices eliminated” (emphasis added).

(Via the Volokh Conspiracy.)

2 Responses to “Changing the rules of politics in Michigan to help Democrats”

  1. Oh you mean like how the Republicans in the Michigan legislature keep on passing laws that take immediate effect despite the fact that 1: the Michigan state constitution requires a 2/3rds majority vote for said law to take immediate effect instead of 90 days after the session ends and 2: the Republicans don’t have a 2/3rds majority but somehow keep on claiming that have a 2/3rds majority voting for laws to take immediate effect even though every single Democrat votes against the law in question? Unless of course you really want to argue that a bunch of Democrats would vote against a law and then when they lose decide to vote for the law to take immediate effect?

    Yeah guess what..it isn’t the Democrats trying to steal your state. It’s the Republicans and they already did steal your state and turned it into what amounts to a one party dictatorship.

  2. K. Crary says:

    According to the Detroit News, the Michigan Repubicans are following the same practices as their Democratic predecessors:

    House Democrats have sued the Republican majority over a procedural move to make bills become laws faster — a maneuver the Dems regularly used when they were in power.

    In 2009, the Democratic majority got all but two of the 242 laws it passed to go immediately into effect after then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed them.

    The next year, Granholm signed 383 laws passed by the House, 365 of which had an immediate-effect clause, Republicans said Friday.

    In their suit, the Democrats contend the Republicans, who took over the House 15 months ago, have passed 546 of 566 bills with an immediate-effect clause attached.

    In any case, it’s absurd hyperbole to suggest that making a law take effect 90 days early is tantamount to establishing a dictatorship.

    Maybe you shouldn’t get your news from Rachel Maddow.

    POSTSCRIPT: By the way, what’s this got to do with the four-year-old failed effort to revise Michigan’s constitution to favor Democrats, anyway?

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