U.S. Supreme Court

It looks like we won’t be seeing an LGBT rights question on the statewide 2016 ballot.

Yet, it was not that long ago that it seemed a near-certainty that LGBT rights groups were ready to go to the ballot next year to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the GOP-led Legislature refused to act.

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow voters to take the authority to draw congressional district lines away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions has many Democrats and progressives in Michigan very happy.

There’s been lots of rejoicing among those who’ve hated gerrymandering – the drawing of district lines to benefit one party over the over.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage has many people happy and relieved. None more so, politically speaking, than Republicans who’ve wanted to see the issue go away.

Moderate Republicans like Governor Rick Snyder have always detested getting wrapped up in the culture wars. 

The U.S. Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of the United States

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of one of the central parts of the Affordable Care Act, keeping the law in place in states throughout the country.

Their decision comes three years after the high court upheld the constitutionality of the law.

The case before the court, King v. Burwell, centered on health care exchanges run by the federal government – as is the case in Michigan.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down rulings on a number of cases regarding same-sex marriage this week.
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State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, is attempting to head same-sex marriage off at the pass with a new package of bills that would take secular elected officials out of the marriage business altogether.

Dave Trumpie / Courtesy photo

County clerks across the state are getting ready for however the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum says she’s keeping an e-mail list of gay and lesbian couples that want to get married, “…so when a decision in support of equality does come down, I can have direct communication with those parties that may be interested in obtaining a marriage license.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan hospitals may pay a price if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

King v. Burwell is one of the final seven cases before the high court this term.   

The case involves a challenge to a specific portion of the federal health care insurance law dealing with federal subsidies. 

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry breaks down what happened during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing over gay marriage bans in Michigan and other states, why the state Senate also held a hearing on a religious freedom bill that same day, and why Michigan has the highest insurance rate in the country and possible changes to fix that. 


Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up the historic Michigan-based case that could determine the legality of same sex marriage throughout the United States.

The Court will hear arguments on four same sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Justices will weigh the rights of voters who approved the bans, the rights of gay and lesbian couples who want to be married, and the rights of same-sex couples who are already married in states that allow it.

Michigan's April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse were at the center of the Supreme Court case.
Rowse/DeBoer

On January 16, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments this spring in four cases that could lead to legally recognizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

One of those four cases was brought by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of Hazel Park. The couple hopes to marry so they can co-adopt their four children. Dana Nessel is the attorney that will help them through the case.

But the nation’s big civil rights and gay rights groups are not stepping up to support this potentially historic case. Here’s why:

Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong with Frizzy. They were the first same-sex couple married in Michigan on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The ban was restored by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state will recognize the marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Those marriages were performed on March 22, 2014 - a day after a federal judge struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, and before another court put more of those marriages on hold while the case worked its way up through the courts.

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A federal judge says 300 gay and lesbian couples are legally married, and the state has to recognize them.

They were married on March 21, 2014. That’s the only day same-sex marriages were legal in Michigan. It was after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and before an appeals court put that decision on hold.       

Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the appeals court decision did not affect the marriages that were performed.

US Supreme Court

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss a Michigan couple whose case could determine constitutional same-sex marriage rights, a challenge to Michigan’s right-to-work law, and a Republican-proposed plan for changes to the Electoral College.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

 

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday it will not review lower court rulings on same-sex marriage cases from several states.

Kathy Gray, Detroit Free Press reporter, says that means the U.S. Supreme Court let those lower court rulings stand, which lift the ban on same-sex marriage in the five states – Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. 

Michigan's case is still up in the air, because it's being heard – along with cases in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky – in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision could come at any time.

U.S. Supreme Court
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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear seven same-sex marriage cases. And that leaves the fate of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision from the Sixth Circuit could come at any time. The case was argued in August. Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are also waiting on the ruling. A decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in those states and Michigan would create a conflict between different circuits that could land the case before the Supreme Court.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the issue of gay marriage this session. Read more about this decision's implications here.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is optimistic the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to take up the question of gay marriage this year.

There is a long-established principle that whenever state law conflicts with a federal law, the federal law prevails. That’s been established by a long string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, plus a little event called the Civil War.  

This is why, for example, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes could rule that the pensions of Detroit city workers and retirees could be cut, even though Michigan’s state constitution says they can’t be. Federal bankruptcy law prevails.

If this weren’t the case, it would mean that anything Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court did could be overruled by any state legislature, and our nation would become no more than a collection of 50 countries united in name only.

That’s something we all learned in civics class -- which makes the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision yesterday on life sentences for minors completely baffling.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to automatically sentence juveniles to life without the possibility of parole. However, some politicians who want to be seen as tough on crime, claimed this decision was not retroactive.

And yesterday, in a four to three vote, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with them. The justices ruled that minors who were sentenced in Michigan to life without the possibility of parole still have no chance of a hearing – if they were sentenced before the nation’s highest court’s ruling.

Michigan police officers and defense attorneys don’t expect much to change in the state after a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in a privacy case.

The nation’s highest court ruled that police need a warrant to search a criminal suspect’s mobile phone.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

As expected, Michigan’s attorney general has dropped an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to block a Lansing casino project.

But the legal fight is far from finished.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state of Michigan could not sue the Bay Mills tribe to block it from operating a casino located off its reservation. The court ruled that the tribe has sovereign immunity.

The state was using the same legal strategy in an appeal in a case involving a proposed Lansing casino.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Clean air advocates in Michigan are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will allow stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants.

The high court decided this week to overturn a lower court ruling and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to slap new limits on pollution from power plants.

Big news out of Washington, D.C. today: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action. The Court's majority held that Michigan voters were within their rights to amend the state constitution to ban the college admission policies. We dove into the decision on today's show.

Then, we checked in with Michigan Radio's auto-beat reporter Tracy Samilton about big changes that are likely in the leadership at Ford.

And, on this Earth Day, what moths can tell us about the world's changing climate.

Also, we spoke with author Joseph Tirella about his book Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America.

First on the show, it's taken months of bargaining, bickering and posturing, but there have been promising advances in the Detroit bankruptcy journey.

Pieces are starting to fall into place that could complete the so-called "grand bargain" that would protect the DIA collection and soften the blow for Detroit's retirees.

First came word of a tentative deal between the city and its pensioners. A day later, the board that represents police and fire retirees gave unanimous approval to the deal.

Now it's on to the next hurdle: getting state lawmakers to approve Michigan's share of the grand bargain – $350 million.

Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent of Crain's Detroit Business, joined us today.

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action in college admissions today.

A six-to-two majority on the Court held that Michigan voters were within their rights to amend the state constitution to ban the admission policies.

Rick Pluta is Lansing bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Credit David Jesse @freephighered / Twitter

The U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling this morning in favor of Michigan's 2006 constitutional ban on using affirmative action in college admissions.

Six justices ruled in favor of Michigan's ban, but for different reasons. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg dissented, and Justice Kagan recused herself from the case.

U.S. Supreme Court

When the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down its 5-4 decision in McCutcheon vs.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign spending watchdog is worried about the potential effect on Michigan’s politics by a U.S. Supreme Court decision today. 

The Supreme Court has struck down limits in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The political campaign ad season is upon us. We’ve already seen the first trickle of ads here in Michigan, but we know the spigot is barely open at this point.

And, this brings us to an interesting court case out of Ohio that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in just over a month. At issue is whether a state can preemptively enforce a ban on a supposedly false and misleading political advertisement.

This started when the Republican independent committee the Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up a billboard that accused an Ohio congressman of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions. The Congressman cried foul under an Ohio law that forbids knowingly or recklessly making false or misleading statements about candidates.

The billboard never went up after the congressman threatened to file a legal complaint. But the Susan B. Anthony List and some other groups challenged the law. That lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality and that was upheld by the U.S Sixth. Circuit Court of Appeals – of which Michigan is a part.

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  The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that pits Michigan against an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe.

The case revolves around the tribe's plan to open an off-reservation casino.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today from D.C.

Listen to the full interview above.

This week we saw yet another split in the Republican Party. But this intra-party fight had little to do with the usual Tea Party v. Establishment narrative. Instead, the imbroglio was over “issue ads.” Or, to be even more specific: disclosure of who is paying for issue ads.

Issue ads can sound and look an awful lot like campaign ads but they don’t directly or explicitly endorse a candidate by saying “vote for Candidate X” or “oppose Candidate Y.” It’s these magic little words – “vote,” “elect,” “support,” – that make a political ad a political ad.

But issue ads can say Candidate X did a horrible thing or Candidate Y is an amazing person. Take for example this ad from the 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Primary: “Raising taxes in this economy is crazy. But that’s what Congressman Pete Hoesktra wants to do… Call Congressman Hoesktra and tell him raising taxes is crazy.” Language like that makes it an issue ad. It says “call Congressman Hoekstra” but it doesn’t specifically say how to vote.

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