Sunday, May 01, 2016

Michigan Lawsuit Shows U.S. Voters May Not Technically Have the Right to Elect Their Mayors - CityLab

Michigan Lawsuit Shows U.S. Voters May Not Technically Have the Right to Elect Their Mayors - CityLab

From the State of Michigan's brief, defending the power of state-appointed emergency managers to take over running a city:

"Here, Plaintiffs are still free to vote in federal and state elections. And they offer no adequate support for the proposition that the right to vote in local elections, once extended, becomes a fundamental right as opposed to simply a right to participate on equal footing. ...Nor do Plaintiffs’ cited cases offer support for a recognized right to participate in local political processes, even where the local unit is a legislative body."


I've posted about this case before.  The State of Michigan says that as long as there are state and federal elections, the right to vote is not impaired--you have no right to vote for local government officials. If the state "extends," i.e, give you out of the goodness of their heart, that right, then it still doesn't include the right to choose the people who make the real decisions.
The implications go beyond Michigan. Extend the principle to other parts of the local government system. County boards, special districts, school boards, and the rest of the alphabet soup of local government entities.  Do you have the right to choose the people who make the decisions on those bodies? Or can a governor put them in receivership?
As for HOAs, if the state can take away your power to choose the city council and the mayor, making constitutional rights arguments about HOA elections would seem like a lost cause. So this case is significant. It is in the District Court now, meaning the lowest level of federal court where trials are held. But if it goes up on appeal to the Sixth Circuit, it could become a major case on voting rights and autonomy of cities. The Center for Constitutional Rights is co-counsel, challenging the emergency manager law. You can read up on it there.


Citizens for Constitutional Local Government said...

This is scary! Another proactive step by the Establishment, whether federal or state, ignoring their obligations to the people first. It's a slippery slope.

Allow me to quote Jefferson's 1789 letter to Madison: “The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years.” And from Madison in The Federalist Papers, N0. 51: “Justice is the end [purpose]of government. It is the end of civil society.”

Deborah Goonan said...

Now take this important Constitutional challenge on the assault of rights of citizens of municipalities in the state of Michigan….

combine that with state laws governing Special Districts that allow developers to retain autocratic control of entire public-private subdivisions for many years…

and recognize that one in five Americans resides in HOAs under so-called “contractual agreements” that allow Association Boards to avoid Constitutional constraints on governance of residents and private property rights.

The reader can only conclude that civil rights and civil liberties are under full scale assault on several battle fronts in the U.S.

What can be done about it?