MichMash: Michigan Supreme Court facing major decisions before end of term

“MichMash” host Cheyna Roth and Gongwer News Service’s Zach Gorchow and Ben Solis discuss how the court’s rulings may impact the Legislature.

Michigan Supreme Court.

Michigan Supreme Court.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s term ends on July 31, but what are the cases that will have the greatest impacts? On the latest episode of MichMash, host Cheyna Roth and Gongwer News Service’s Zach Gorchow were joined by Gongwer News Service’s Ben Solis to discuss how the court’s rulings may impact the Legislature. 

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In this episode:

  • The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling on Legislature’s “adopt and amend” tactic
  • Whether life sentences should be applied to those who are 18 years old and younger
  • Biden’s debate performance

The Michigan Legislature’s controversial “adopt and amend” tactic of adopting a ballot measure before allowing it to go to voters and then amending it during the legislative session, is currently seen as constitutional.

A challenge of whether the adopt and amend tactic violates the state Constitution’s voter initiative clause was heard before the Michigan Supreme Court in early December after a Republican-controlled Legislature used the tactic to adopt a petition initiative to increase minimum wage in the state in order to alter it and slow the pace of an increase.

The Michigan Court of Claims struck down the Legislature’s action — a decision that was later reversed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Solis says based on a case being seen by the Supreme Court, what’s at stake is whether the Legislature can continue to act in this matter.  

“[It] could be an end to direct democracy in the state if the Legislature acts as a gatekeeper,” said Solis of the constitutionality of the legislative tactic. “People are very worried that that means that they don’t have a direct line to make changes to laws as they do now.”

Another item being considered before the court involves the life sentencing of individuals 18 years old and under. The court recently issued orders regarding the possibility of extending the ban on sentencing those 18 and under to automatic life without parole to 19 and 20 year olds. Solis says there are cases that are focusing on the mindset of young people and to consider how their brain develops.  

“Justice Elizabeth Welch [said] that sentences of this nature, fail to account, mitigating circumstances of youth, the development of the late adolescent brain and emerging science that says that youth may or may not fully understand the ramifications of those heavy crimes when they commit them,” said Solis.  

Solis said that it is hard to predict where the justices will go with their decisions and how they will determine adulthood.  

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  • Hernz Laguerre
    Hernz Laguerre Jr. is a Multimedia Journalist at 101.9 WDET. He is one of the co-host for "Detroit Evening Report," one of the weekend anchors for "Weekend Edition," the producer for our political podcast, "MichMash," and reports on arts, culture and politics.