Court declines to swat ‘union bug’

A tiny detail on a petition initiative had the potential to “throw the entire 2022 election into chaos,” if the Michigan Supreme Court had ruled differently.

 A recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling over a tiny detail has big implications for this year’s elections.

A petition initiative from the group Raise the Wage Michigan includes a small “union bug.” That’s a tiny logo that indicates the petition was printed using union labor. Last month, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked along party lines on the petition, with Republicans saying that the typeface on the union bug was too small. Michigan law requires typeface on petitions to be 8-point font.

MichMash hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk with Bridge Michigan state politics reporter Jonathan Oosting about the implications of this case and why it matters.


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The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the union label was allowed.

So what’s the big fuss? Well, Oosting says this could have been a serious problem if the court had ruled differently.

“Had they ruled the other way, though, it could have had huge implications. Because, for instance, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a union bug on her nominating petitions that she just filed this week to qualify for the ballot, as do — I’m told — other mostly Democratic lawmakers,” says Oosting.

“So, there is the potential, according to Whitmer’s attorney, to throw the entire 2022 election into chaos just a couple of months before the filing deadline for candidates to submit their signature.”

But Oosting says that this issue could pop back up. He says the Board of Canvassers could rule that Whitmer’s nominating petitions also do not meet font size requirements. However, he says the court is likely to rule the same way.


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Author

  • Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.