News Release

Denied Right to Vote in Michigan: “Democracy Emergency”


The New York Times reports: “More than two dozen residents of Michigan filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against top officials in the state, contending that a new law broadly expanding the powers of emergency managers in the most financially troubled cities violates Michigan’s Constitution. The lawsuit, filed in Ingham County Circuit Court, contends that the law approved by Michigan lawmakers this year improperly allows the state to place new costs on municipalities without paying for them and, in essence, bars local residents from picking their own elected representatives.”

Fifelski is with Progress Michigan, which in a news release charged “Gov. Rick Snyder and the legislature with implementing an unconstitutional power grab that effectively silences citizens.” The news release quotes several of the plaintifs — with whom Fifelski can arrange interviews — in the case, and is available at:

JOHN PHILO, jphilo at
Legal director of the Sugar Law Center, which is representing the plaintifs, Philo said today: “In the past, there have been emergency finance managers appointed to oversee a jurisdiction’s finances until they are straightened out. This is different. This is a state-appointed emergency manager with powers beyond financies, effectively becoming the government entity.

“People think they have a right to vote, but where is that written? Thomas M. Cooley, former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, found that it was inherent to our system of government. The state government of Michigan is trying to deny people the right to vote for their local government.

“This is disenfranchising and is directed at low-income communities and communities of color. … Those are the ones that are hardest hit. The presence of the law itself, too, is impacting the local governments in other communities, also, again, low-income communities of color. And it’s forcing them into considering whether they should enter into a consent agreement before they have an emergency manager appointed.” Philo appeared on Democracy Now this morning.