Legal challenge filed to Michigan's emergency manager law

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 5:49 PM
Legal challenge filed to Michigan's emergency manager law

DETROIT (Reuters) - Opponents of Michigan's new emergency manager law filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the measure, which allows the state to effectively fire elected officials and tear up union contracts in financially distressed cities and school districts.

The complaint, filed in the Circuit Court for Ingham County, claims the law -- officially known as the Local Government and School District Accountability Act -- violates the state's constitution by stripping local voters of their right to elect the lawmakers who govern them.

The suit, filed on behalf of 36 Michigan residents, claims the law "establishes a new form of local government, previously unknown within the United States or the State of Michigan, where the people within local municipalities may be governed by an un-elected official who establishes local law by decree."

The measure, passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Snyder in March, also allows the emergency managers appointed by the state to terminate union contracts with public workers.

Supporters of the emergency manager law say it is needed to help restore financial stability to fiscally challenged cities and school districts.

Critics call it undemocratic, "repugnant," according to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday, "to the constitutional liberties of Americans under settled law."

The emergency manager law triggered demonstrations earlier this year at the Michigan Capitol that drew thousands of protesters, many members of public sector unions, who also see the law as an attack on collective bargaining.

(Writing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jerry Norton)