PONTIAC (WWJ) – Judge William Collette from Ingham County Circuit Court issued a ruling Wednesday overturning the controversial legislation that would have allowed Republicans in Oakland County to redo redistricting — reportedly to their advantage — prior to the 2012 election.
“We are glad that Judge Collette saw the “Republican Powergrab Bill,” for what it was – an outrageous attempt by Republicans to change the law, just for Oakland County, for Republican political gain,” said Frank Houston, plaintiff and Chairman of the Oakland County Apportionment Commission, who successfully sued Governor Snyder on the constitutional grounds of Public Act 280.
Collette’s decision stated:
“(The Act) violates the Michigan Constitution, Article 4, Section 29’s prohibition on local acts, violates the Headlee Amendment’s prohibition on unfunded mandates, and violates MCL 46,406 by impinging on Oakland County voters’ rights to petition for judicial review of the reapportionment plan.”
The decision allows for lawyers fees to be covered by the state and county and reaffirms the court’s decision that taxpayers were unconstitutionally responsible for the potential costs of redoing redistricting in Oakland County – a process that approached six figures in 2011.
“Justice is truly blind. It sees neither the left nor the right. It sees the truth, and today truth prevailed, the people have won,” said Eric Coleman, former Oakland County Commissioner and past President of the National Association of Counties.
There’s no word yet on whether Governor Rick Snyder and Oakland County Republicans will take the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If they don’t, the Apportionment Commission plan that was approved last spring and upheld previously by the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
But Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson seemed ready to keep the fight going.
“Today’s ruling by the liberal Ingham County Circuit Court is a Phyrric victory for the Democrats. Ingham County Circuit Court has a long record of ruling in favor of Democrats, only to be overturned by higher courts. This matter will be settled in the Michigan Supreme Court,” Patterson said in a statement.
Democrats saw it a different way, with Democratic Commissioner Gary McGillivray saying, “I hope that both our County Executive and Governor stop wasting taxpayer dollars on these political games so we can all get back to work on the issues voters really care about… “In my district people care about finding good paying jobs, property values and having quality services.”
The case played out in the background of L. Brooks Patterson’s recent state of the county address – Patterson didn’t invite Democratic county commissioners, citing the lawsuit. Dems held their own state of the county and lashed out at Patterson for “playing politics.”