Case: Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson

20-00108 | Michigan state trial court

Filed Date: June 2, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This lawsuit was filed on June 2, 2020 in the Michigan state court of claims. Represented by private counsel, three individual plaintiffs, the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Detroit/Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute sued Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel over three Michigan voting laws. First was a law that rejected all absentee ballots that are not delivered to the clerk by 8 p.m. on election day (the Ball…

This lawsuit was filed on June 2, 2020 in the Michigan state court of claims. Represented by private counsel, three individual plaintiffs, the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Detroit/Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute sued Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel over three Michigan voting laws. First was a law that rejected all absentee ballots that are not delivered to the clerk by 8 p.m. on election day (the Ballot Receipt Deadline). The second was a law that required voters to use their own stamps to mail the ballots (the Postage Requirement). Third was a law that prohibited parties outside of election officials, postal workers, and a voter's immediate family from handling their absentee ballots (the Voter Assistance Ban). The plaintiffs argued that these laws were in violation of the Michigan constitution's guarantee of the right to vote absentee, the right to vote, due process, and free speech. They also argued that the voter assistance ban was preempted by federal law, specifically in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the form of preliminary and permanent injunctions that would prohibit the state of Michigan from enforcing these three laws. They also sought attorneys' fees and costs.

On June 10, the court ordered that the case be consolidated with two other cases, Black v. Benson and Davis v. Benson. Nine days later, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate moved to intervene as defendants. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants submitted memoranda in opposition to their intervention. On July 2, however, the court denied these motions, but allowed the bodies to submit amici briefs. Also on July 2, the Republican National Committee and the Michigan Republican Party moved to intervene. The court issued a similar order on July 14, denying the motion to intervene but granting amici status.

Throughout the last few weeks of July, the parties filed supplemental briefs that drew on a ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals in League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Secretary of State. That case answered the question of whether the Ballot Receipt Deadline was in violation of the Michigan constitution -- the court of appeals concluded that it did not. So the parties submitted their reports outlining how they thought that case impacted the claims in this case going forward.

The case is ongoing as of August 10, 2020.

Summary Authors

Jack Hibbard (8/10/2020)

Related Cases

League of Women Voters v. Benson, Michigan state trial court (2020)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, Jacki Lynn (District of Columbia)

Elgart, Courtney (District of Columbia)

Elias, Marc Erik (District of Columbia)

Grill, Erik A. (Michigan)

Jasrasaria, Jyoti (District of Columbia)

Meingast, Heather S. (Michigan)

Nkwonta, Uzoma (District of Columbia)

Prescott, Sarah (Michigan)

Steinberger, Michael K (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Wilder, Kurtis T (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, Jacki Lynn (District of Columbia)

Elgart, Courtney (District of Columbia)

Elias, Marc Erik (District of Columbia)

Grill, Erik A. (Michigan)

Jasrasaria, Jyoti (District of Columbia)

Meingast, Heather S. (Michigan)

Nkwonta, Uzoma (District of Columbia)

Prescott, Sarah (Michigan)

Steinberger, Michael K (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Wilder, Kurtis T (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

July 31, 2020 Docket

Complaint

June 2, 2020 Complaint

Resources

Title Description External URL

Michigan

Democracy Docket

Democracy Docket focuses on detecting, highlighting, and combating suppressive voting laws and practices that have the greatest impact on voters and elections. We spotlight those laws and practices t… June 2, 2020 https://www.democracydocket.com/michigan/

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 1 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 2 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 3 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 4 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 5 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 6 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 7 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

8/10/2020 3:43:50 PM Page: 8 of 9 20-000108-MM C/COC/MI

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 2, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Detroit/Downriver Chapter of A. Philip Randolph Institute, Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and private individuals

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, State

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Voting Rights Act, section 208 (assistance for disabled persons), 52 U.S.C. § 10508 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6)

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Supremacy Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting access

Voting:

Election administration

Voter qualifications