Federal Court Rules 1992 Term Limits Amendment to Michigan Constitution Was Lawful

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

January 22, 2021 

LANSING – A federal court sided with the offices of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel when it dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday that challenged the current status of Michigan’s term limits under a constitutional amendment passed by voters nearly 30 years ago. 

The challenge to the 1992 amendment was filed by 10 former Democratic and Republican state legislators in Kowall et al v Benson, 19-985 (WD Mich). But Judge Janet T. Neff, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, dismissed the case, in part, because the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims were barred in light of a previous court decision – or were otherwise without merit.  

Neff also found plaintiffs’ state constitutional challenges to the petition and ballot language in the 1992 amendment meritless. 

“Michigan voters took action three decades ago to change our state constitution, and that amendment has now held up twice in a court of law,” Nessel said. “I appreciate the Court’s ruling and review of the case law on this matter, and while the legal challenges have failed, the Michigan Constitution – and term limits for our lawmakers – remain something voters can revisit and amend through lawful means as they deem appropriate.” 

The amendments to the Michigan Constitution referenced in the case were approved by the people in 1992 and have been on the books for almost 30 years. They were previously upheld as constitutional by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.  

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