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Court of Claims Rules in Favor of AG Nessel in Lawsuit Taking Aim at Adopt and Amend
July 13, 2021
LANSING - A Court of Claims judge dismissed a lawsuit today against the Attorney General in response to the Attorney General's motion for summary disposition. Judge Cynthia Stephens said she dismissed the lawsuit because plaintiffs did not respond to the Attorney General's motion in a timely manner.
Last month, Attorney General Dana Nessel pointed out she was not the proper defendant in Mothering Justice, et al v Nessel, which challenges the constitutionality of Acts 368 and 369 - laws that were passed by the Legislature in September 2018 related to initiative petitions to increase the minimum wage and to provide for the accrual of paid sick leave.
The initiative petitions were originally slated to be put on the ballot in 2018 as a result of a citizen-initiated petition drive. Instead, the Legislature adopted the measures and then amended them with a simple majority. The legality of the Legislature's use of the "adopt and amend" procedure was approved in an opinion by former Attorney General Bill Schuette and ultimately heard by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2019, pursuant to a request for advisory opinion. In the case, the Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to establish a conflict wall and appoint two sets of attorneys from the office to argue both sides of the issue. AG Nessel joined the side of her office that argued that the process, and thus the new laws, were unconstitutional. Ultimately, though, the Supreme Court declined to issue an advisory opinion.
In the motion she filed in this case, Nessel explained that she agreed with the policy arguments set forth in the complaint, but nevertheless sought summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) because, based on the allegations in the complaint, she was not the proper party against whom to bring any of the complaint's three Counts.
"I continue to agree that the actions undertaken by the Republican legislature to adopt and then gut the substance of the One Fair Wage and Paid Sick Leave Act were unconstitutional and undermined the will of Michigan residents," Nessel said. "Suing the Department of Attorney General does not bring us any closer to resolving this issue. It is my hope Mr. Brewer will take the proper avenue to argue the merits of this case in court."