Michigan’s high court puts abortion question on Nov. ballot

Sep 8, 2022, 2:33 PM | Updated: Sep 9, 2022, 7:48 am
FILE - Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Ju...

FILE - Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on June 24, 2022, following the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Voters will decide whether to place abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, settling the issue a day before the fall ballot must be completed. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Voters will determine whether to place abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, settling the issue a day before the fall ballot must be completed.

Abortion rights would be guaranteed if the amendment passes on Nov. 8. A 1931 state law makes it a crime to perform most abortions, but the law was suspended in May and a judge this week followed up by striking it down as unconstitutional.

Though appeals of that decision are likely, the law would be trumped if voters approve the amendment in the fall election.

There are political implications beyond the ballot question.

Democrats say the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is mobilizing voters and will help Democratic candidates this fall, when top races including governor, secretary of state and attorney general are on the Michigan ballot. They point to conservative Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright.

In Michigan, a state elections board on Aug. 31 deadlocked along party lines on whether the abortion initiative should appear on the ballot, with Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes. The 2-2 tie meant the measure wasn’t certified for the ballot.

Supporters submitted more than 700,000 signatures, easily clearing the minimum threshold. But Republicans and abortion opponents argued the petitions had improper or no spacing between certain words and were confusing to voters.

“What a sad marker of the times,” Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said in a brief statement that accompanied the Supreme Court’s 5-2 order.

McCormack said “there is no dispute” that every word was legible and in the correct order.

Republican members of the Board of State Canvassers “would disenfranchise millions of Michiganders not because they believe the many thousands of Michiganders who signed the proposal were confused by it, but because they think they have identified a technicality that allows them to do so, a game of gotcha gone very bad,” McCormack said.

The majority was made up of McCormack, three other Democratic justices and a Republican justice. Two Republicans dissented.

The court directed state canvassers, who meet again Friday, to sign off on the ballot question. Tony Daunt, a Republican who had voted against the proposal, last week said that the board would obey a court order.

Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, hailed the decision.

“Our state Constitution provides the people with direct access to the democratic process and that access should not be limited by appointed individuals acting beyond the scope of their duty,” Nessel said.

A group called Citizens to Support MI Women and Children said it will campaign against the amendment. Right to Life of Michigan also will be a major opponent.

“Current events continue showing us that any nation that sees the next generation as an existential threat — rather than an existential necessity — has no future,” Right to Life said on Facebook.

There was no immediate comment from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is in favor of the ballot question and is seeking reelection. Her Republican opponent, Tudor Dixon, opposes abortion rights except to save the life of the mother.

Results of a poll published this week by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed abortion and women’s rights was the top issue motivating Michigan residents to vote in November, ahead of inflation and cost of living, education, and the economy and jobs. The poll also showed a majority of likely voters support a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights.

In a dissent, Justice Brian Zahra said supporters of the abortion question did not have a “clear legal right” to the ballot.

“Words separated by spaces cease being words or become new words when the spaces between them are removed,” Zahra said.

___

Burnett reported from Chicago and White reported from Detroit.

___

Joey Cappelletti is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

To fill teacher jobs, community colleges offer new degrees

In her second-grade classroom outside Seattle, Fatima Nuñez Ardon often tells her students stories about everyday people realizing their dreams. One day, for example, she talked about Salvadoran American NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio and his journey to the International Space Station. Another day, she told them her own life story — how she, an El […]
5 hours ago
In this photo provided by the Armed Forces of Denmark, a view the disturbance in the water above th...
Associated Press

Sweden completes investigation of Baltic Sea pipeline leaks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s domestic security agency said Thursday that its preliminary investigation of leaks from two Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea “has strengthened the suspicions of serious sabotage” as the cause. The Swedish Security Service said the probe confirmed that “detonations” caused extensive damage to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord […]
5 hours ago
FILE - A logo of Toyota Motor Corp. at a dealer Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Tokyo. Toyota said Thur...
Associated Press

Japan’s Toyota finds wheel, airbag fixes for recalled EVs

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s top automaker Toyota said Thursday that it has identified how to fix its 2023 model year bZ4X crossover electric vehicles after recalling 2,700 of them in June out of concern wheel bolts might become loose, risking a crash. The fix will enable Toyota Motor Corp. to resume making and selling the […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Loretta Lynn performs at the BBC Music Showcase during South By Southwest on March 17, 2016,...
Associated Press

Loretta Lynn’s songs resonate anew amid abortion debate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Loretta Lynn, the Grammy-winning country music icon who died Tuesday at 90, lived through — and sang about — decades of advancements for women’s social movements, achievements now endangered. A mother multiple times over by the end of her teens, she gave voice to those who had historically had little control […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Official: Germans using too much gas to avoid energy crisis

BERLIN (AP) — Germans are using too much gas to avoid a potential energy “emergency” this winter, the head of Germany’s national network regulator warned Thursday. “Gas consumption increased by too much last week,” said Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s network agency. With the reduction in natural gas flows from Russia amid the war in […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Gambia urgently recalls syrups blamed for 66 child deaths

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Gambia has launched an urgent door-to-door campaign to remove cough and cold syrups blamed for the deaths of more than 60 children from kidney injury in the tiny West African country. Speaking to The Associated Press, the Director of Health Dr. Mustapha Bittaye confirmed the wave of child deaths from acute […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Michigan’s high court puts abortion question on Nov. ballot