State of Michigan

Michigan Voting Rights Constitutional Amendments Challenge 

Lindsey v. Whitmer

Lawsuit filed by 11 Republican state legislators seeking to nullify two pro-voting constitutional amendments that were enshrined in the Michigan constitution via voter-approved ballot initiatives in 2018 and 2022, respectively. The GOP plaintiffs also challenge the “future use” of ballot initiatives that aim to enact amendments to the Michigan Constitution pertaining to regulation of the “times, places, and manner of federal elections.” Under the fringe independent state legislature (ISL) theory, the plaintiffs contend that voter-approved amendments regulating federal elections “are an unconstitutional usurpation of state legislator’s rights to participate in law-making decisions under the Elections Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. Under the ISL theory, the GOP state legislators interpret the Elections Clause to mean that only state legislatures — not citizens — have the authority to set rules for federal elections, free from state constitutional review by courts and other parts of the state government. The plaintiffs argue that because the Legislature has no involvement in the ballot initiative process, its power is “undermined” since it should be “‘the entity assigned particular authority by the Federal Constitution’ to regulate the time, place, and manner of federal elections.” The plaintiffs ask the court to declare the 2018 and 2022 amendments invalid and in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause and to prohibit the enactment of future voter-approved amendments that regulate federal elections. On April 10, 2024, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal on May 3, 2024.

STATUS: An appeal is ongoing in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Case Documents (district court)

Case Documents (6th Circuit)

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