Michigan Supreme Court Fails to Respond to Firearm Appeal Prior to Election Day

Contact: Ryan Jarvi 517-599-2746
Agency: Attorney General

November 2, 2020

LANSING –The Michigan Supreme Court did not respond to a request from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel to review challenges made to the legality of a directive issued by Secretary Benson on Oct. 16 that prohibited the open carry of firearms in limited locations on Election Day.

Under the Secretary’s directive, the open carry of a firearm was to be prohibited in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place was located, in clerk’s offices and absent voter counting boards on Tuesday.

Two lawsuits were filed – and later consolidated – that challenged the Secretary’s Directive. On Friday, the trial court granted an injunction in the case, finding that the directive likely violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The decision was immediately appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, but that court declined to hear the appeal. An application for leave to appeal was then filed with the Michigan Supreme Court. The state requested an answer from the Supreme Court by 10:00 a.m. this morning considering tomorrow’s election. However, the Michigan Supreme Court has not responded which means the Court of Appeals decision will stand.

“Though I am disappointed that the Supreme Court hasn’t provided guidance in advance of Election Day, it does not change the fact that voter intimidation is still illegal in Michigan,” Attorney General Nessel said. “Those who attempt to deter or interfere with someone trying to exercise the fundamental right to vote will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Voters can go to the polls tomorrow confident that safety is our top priority,” Secretary Benson said. “The bottom line is that voter intimidation is illegal under state and federal law. As the Court of Appeals confirmed, anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm is committing a felony. The Attorney General and I are working with law enforcement to ensure the law is followed statewide.”