MI Supreme Court Hears Emergency Manager Lawsuit

The emergency manager law gives the governor the ability to appoint someone to run troubled cities and school districts.

Critics of the law collected enough signatures to get a repeal on the November ballot, but ran into roadblocks after their petition was challenged.

Opponents say the font size on those petitions is too small and in April, the State Board of Canvassers deadlocked on the issue, but the Michigan Appeals Court said it could go on the ballot. That's why we heard arguments in the State Supreme Court from both sides Wednesday.


Just outside of the court doors, hundreds voiced their opinions as those seated in a packed court room listened on–something Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. called a very rare July argument, but none the less a significant one.

For nearly two hours, font size, font styles and print point sizes all came under debate.

“Is what the computer generates as a font the same thing as 14 point type face?” said Justice Young.

The Citizens for Fiscal Responsbility say the headline on Stand Up for Democracy's petition regarding the emerency manager law was 10 point, not the 14 point required under state law. But just how to measure and what is to be measured creates a number of questions.


“I don't know if it's so clear that we can take judicial notice of this creating the standard for measuring the point size of print,” said Justice Young.

The plantiffs say the size is correct and if there is doubt, rule on substational compliance.


“This case is a case of philopshy. Do we make it difficult as they have proposed for people to redress their government through the petition process or do we uphold the constitutional rights of the citizens of this state and allow them access to the ballot?” asked Attorney Herbert Sanders with “Stand Up for Democracy.”

“You don't get to pick and choose.You don't get to say its close enough. This isn't horse shoes–this is a really fundamently part of our system,” said Attorney John Pirich with “Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.”

But the defense says its about standards already in place. Either way, it's now in the hands of Michigan's Supreme Court.

The court only heard arguments Wednesday. 6 News spoke with both lawyers from each side who said they weren't sure when their decision would come down. It could be days or weeks, but they tell us the absolute deadline to get things filed with the Secretary of State is by September 7th.



Several times during court Wednesday, the issue of how this decision would impact other petitions that have already been filed was brought up. It seems only time will tell what's to come and we will of course keep you updated on this story.

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