Governor Rick Snyder’s Emergency Manager law was highly controversial even before it was passed - and yesterday, a coalition of twenty-eight teachers, union members and private citizens filed suit, claiming the law is unconstitutional.
In their view, it violates the state constitution because it gives the executive branch power over the legislative, violating the separation of powers, something fundamental to both the United States and Michigan constitutions. To me, the only thing surprising about this suit was that it took so long to be filed.
This is not the first of the governor’s sweeping reforms to face a constitutional challenge. Lawsuits have already claimed the taxing of pensions is unconstitutional. Such cases can often take months or even years to wend their way through the court system. But in the case of the pension tax, to his credit, the governor requested a speedy decision from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The justices have agreed to hear the case in September, which is lightning speed in high court terms.
Getting this resolved quickly makes perfect sense, partly so that the state can try to figure out budget alternatives just in case the ruling goes against them.
Deciding this early should also prevent the endless cycle of hearings, injunctions and motions to lift injunctions.
But as long as the high court has agreed to an expedited decision on the constitutionality of the pension tax, it should give us a speedy ruling on the emergency financial manager bill as well.
Everything I know about our state’s highest court, and the experts I have talked to about this, makes me think it is highly likely the justices will rule in Governor Snyder’s favor in both cases.