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Politics & Government

Emergency manager law opponents: Referendum question needs to go on the ballot--now

PA 4 protest.jpg
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Organizers behind the bid to get Michigan’s emergency manager law on the November ballot say they’re getting tired of waiting for the courts to act.

So they’re taking their case directly to the streets—and judges.

After a complicated legal battle, the Michigan Court of Appeals effectively ruled earlier this month that a referendum on Public Act 4 must go on the November ballot.

Last week, referendum proponents filed a motion with the court, asking them to order the state Board of Canvassers to do just that.

But so far, the court hasn’t taken any action on that motion. And lawyers now accuse the court of dragging its feet.

Gathering at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Detroit Thursday, they discovered the court is still sitting on a motion referendum supporters made asking the court to put their ruling to “immediate effect”—essentially forcing the state Board of Canvassers to put the question on the ballot.

Melvin “Butch” Hollowell is leading the legal challenge on behalf of the Detroit NAACP. He told the assembled crowd it’s time to put pressure directly on Appeals Court judges.

 “You need to know who the judges are. And we actually have photographs of the judges. We want you to know who some of these faceless judges are, so they can feel the pressure of the people.”

Hollowell say activists plan sit-downs and other civil disobedience measures to put pressure on judges. And he warns the federal government could get involved if the case drags out too long.

Union representative and lawyer Herb Sanders also told the chanting, praying crowd that they need to start demanding action.

“You don’t want to wait on the court to do what it has to do,” Sander said. “But you are going to demand that you be allowed the right to vote--now!”

Referendum opponents—who successfully kept the measure off the ballot initially over a font size issue—have called this legal action “meritless.”

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