For two years the democratically elected commission to revise Detroit’s city charter worked with community groups to adopt more progressive policies for the city, and they presented their proposed charter to Governor Whitmer in March 2021 with the intent that it be placed on the ballot for approval or rejection by Detroit’s voters in the August 2021 election. However, the governor raised objections to parts of the proposed charter, and opponents of the charter took the position that it could not go on the ballot without the governor’s approval. A trial-court judge in Wayne County and the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed, ordering the charter removed from the ballot. The dispute then went before the Michigan Supreme Court, and in June 2021 the ACLU of Michigan joined the Sugar Law Center in filing a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Wayne State law professors who argued that the Michigan Constitution allows the charter to be put before the voters regardless of whether the Governor has approved. In July 2021 the Supreme Court agreed with our position and reversed the decisions of the lower court. Detroit voters ended up choosing not to approve the new charter. (Sheffield v. Detroit City Clerk; ACLU Attorneys Mark P. Fancher and Dan Korobkin; co-counsel John Philo of Sugar Law Center.)
The Michigan Legislature is in session.