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Attorney General Nessel Files Brief in Support of Abortion Access on the Ballot

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an amicus brief in Reproductive Freedom For All v Board of State Canvassers, in support of Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) and its appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court to place its ballot question before Michigan voters on November 8.

On August 30, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on whether to place before voters on the November ballot a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion care in Michigan. The tie vote from the Board of State Canvassers made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, means the measure did not advance to the ballot. RFFA filed an emergency application to the Michigan Supreme Court on September 1.

“An overwhelming number of Michigan residents signed petitions in support of placing the question of abortion access on the ballot in November,” said Nessel. “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 and authority of their duty.”

The brief filed by the Department of Attorney General argues the Board acted beyond its authority in challenging the spacing between words in the text of the proposed ballot language, “the Board of State Canvassers—a ministerial body without any legal powers or judgment of its own—effectively usurped the Legislature’s authority by refusing to approve the petition, ostensibly because two of the Board’s members thought the word spacing was insufficient. They effectively created and applied legislation. By aggrandizing itself, the unelected Board has treated the Constitution of this State as an advisory document, and stripped the People of their right to amend their Constitution.”

On July 11, the RFFA ballot proposal submitted roughly 750,000 signatures to the Michigan Department of State. After sampling the signatures to determine whether a sufficient number was submitted, it was estimated that the petition contains 596,379 valid signatures, or 146,228 more than the minimum threshold for certification.

Nessel’s brief further states, “The People’s right to amend their Constitution cannot be discarded by a pair of unelected officials playing fast and loose with their statutory charge.”

The Department of Attorney General filed its amicus brief in support of the emergency application filed by RFFA under the Michigan Court Rules.

 A copy of the brief can be found here.

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