This database consolidates and tracks litigation concerning the effect of the pandemic on election law. The purpose of this tool is to provide an interactive list of relevant cases that can be searched by issue, court, status, and jurisdiction.
Fair and Equal Michigan v. Benson
Fair and Equal Michigan v. Benson, No. 20-000095-MM (Mich. Ct. Claims)
|Case Summary||Michigan’s constitution allows its citizens to propose legislation through initiatives, which result from petitions: (a) signed by at least eight percent of the total vote cast for all gubernatorial candidates in the prior election, with such signatures collected at least 180 days before filing the petition; and (b) submitted at least 160 days before the November 3, 2020 general election. Plaintiffs alleged that, due to social distancing orders put in place in light of COVID-19, gathering signatures in support of petitions became significantly more difficult. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the timing requirements for petitions were unconstitutional and injunctive relief relaxing the timing requirements for petitions that otherwise met the signature quantity requirements. Plaintiffs also sought declaration that the Michigan constitution's threshold signature requirements conflicted with other state constitutional rights and injunctive relief reducing the number of signatures required.|
|Type of Court||State|
|Issue Tag(s)||Petition Signature Requirement (Deadline/Time to Collect, Threshold Number)|
|Complaint(s)||05/26/2020: Complaint filed.|
|Dispositive Ruling(s)||06/10/2020: Order/Ruling, The court partially granted plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and ordered the tolling or suspension of Michigan's 180-day signature expiration deadline for a period of 69 days (the length of Michigan's stay-at-home order). The court denied preliminary injuctive relief with regard to the requirement to submit petitions at least 160 days prior to the election, noting that the state had an interest in an orderly process for vetting petitions and implementing its constitutional support threshold for ballot access. The court also denied preliminary injuctive relief with regard to the number of signatures required for a petition under Michigan's constitution, noting that constituional provisions generally shouldn't be read to be in conflict and that specific provisions for ballot access took precedence over general provisions for freedoms of speech and assembly.|