by Patrice Johnson | Sept. 30, 2023
A federal lawsuit filed last Wednesday was not, to adapt an old saying, your daddy’s lawsuit. “It’s important for everyone to understand just how vital this case is about making rules about elections,” Attorney Erick Kaardal said during a press conference held September 28, the day of the case filing. (See 17:30 in video above.)
In fact, 11 state legislators are suing state elections officials for usurping their civil rights to perform their constitutionally protected duties. Defendants Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Director of Elections Jonathan Brater are to blame, the legislators claim, for sidestepping the law and leaving the state legislature out of the process of determining state election laws.
“This lawsuit is about defending the Constitution and the rule of law,” Senator Jonathan Lindsey said. “We live in a time when it is commonplace for elected officials and bureaucrats to routinely violate the state and federal constitutions despite their taking oaths to uphold both. The result has been a deterioration of our government and people’s faith in it.”
Specifically, the case maintains that Proposal 3 of 2018 and Proposal 2 of 2022 directly violated the law when the proposed changes to election law were placed on the ballot without input—or vote—from the state legislature.
Plaintiffs include Senators Jonathan Lindsey and Jim Runestad; Representatives Steve Carra, James DeSana, Joseph Fox, Neil Friske, Matt Maddock, Brad Paquette, Angela Rigas, Joshua Schriver, and Rachelle Smit.
“We have procedures in place at the state level to amend election law,” Senator Jonathan Lindsey explained. “There are multiple paths to modify state election law within the parameters set by the Constitution. However, we have seen something else entirely here in Michigan.” He said the process was corrupted in 2018 and 2022 when amendments to the state constitution were made via an alternate route “without regard to the constitutional requirements.”
Erick Kaardal, the lead attorney representing the legislators, stated, “We have to get down to the point, exactly, how do you make the rules by which we run our election laws? That’s what this case is about.” For the past 30 years, Kaardal, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has sued the government in order to make it better. “Where do you start? You start with the law.”
“Recently in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature under the Elections Clause has a particular federal authority to regulate the times, places, and manner of elections,” Kaardal, a partner with Mohrman, Kaardal and Erickson, P.A., stated. “Well, that’s great. We should celebrate the genius of the Elections Clause, and we do.”
The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 4 (the Elections Clause), requires state legislatures to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections.
Kaardal said elected state legislators, as individual members of the state legislature, have the authority to regulate elections. “Those are the people, these legislators, who exercise the power under the Elections Clause to regulate the times, places, and manner elections.”
“The president can’t issue executive orders regulating times, places, and manner of elections. The governor can’t issue executive orders. The attorney general can’t. The secretary of state can’t. And the reason they can’t is because the state legislature needs to be involved. That’s what the Elections Clause requires. These state legislators need to be involved when Michigan makes laws about elections.”
One-person rule over election law (often spurning elections altogether) has occurred under many labels, including tyrant, dictator, premier, monarch, queen, supreme ruler, and president.
“The founders of this great republic put regulating elections into the hands of the state legislatures, so changes to the election process will undergo a deliberative and thoughtful process by the people’s elected representatives,” Representative Steve Carra said. He cited the deceptive tactics that progressives, mostly from out of state, used to trick the public into voting for Proposal 2-22.
Carra showed that of the total $31.7 million spent on the Proposal 2 campaign, $23.6 million, 74%, was expended in support. About half of that, $11.3 million, poured into Promote the Vote from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)4 nonprofit based in Washington D.C. The George Soros Open Society Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in New York city, accounted for $1.2 million.
The 2022 and 2018 petition process cut the state legislators “completely out of the process,” Kaardal explained. “It’s unconstitutional, and this was unlawful. State legislators have to be involved and take a vote, and these constitutional amendments did not go through that process.”
Civil rights violations
“One of the really exciting things about this case is that it’s a civil rights case,” Kaardal explained. “These senators and these house members are engaging in a process under federal law, and so [this case addresses] a civil rights violation.”
“We have elected these legislators to have the power under the Elections Clause to participate in lawmaking to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections. That’s perfect. That’s what Michigan wants.” Unfortunately the constitution was misused, he said,
“It's a federal civil rights action. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s going to sort of clear up this problem particularly in the future. Should people do these amendments by citizen petition when they are regulating times, places, and manner of elections? The answer under the U.S. Constitution is No. And the election officials in Michigan have to say No because the state legislature has to be involved in regulating the times, places, and manner of elections. It’s good policy, and it’s also the Constitution.”
Michigan Fair Elections and the Great Lakes Justice Center, sponsors of the lawsuit, are Michigan-based, non-profit 501(c)3 organizations. MFE is composed of local task forces dedicated to restoring fair and honest elections through education, local citizen participation in elections, and litigation. GLJC’s mission is to speak truth on behalf of the persecuted and most vulnerable and to champion the cause of the defenseless and oppressed.
Definitely no small case.
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