Resource: Fair and Equal Mich. v. Benson

By: Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

November 19, 2020

Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

Michigan’s constitution allows its citizens to propose legislation through initiatives, which result from petitions: (a) signed by at least eight percent of the total vote cast for all gubernatorial candidates in the prior election, with such signatures collected at least 180 days before filing the petition; and (b) submitted at least 160 days before the November 3, 2020 general election. Plaintiffs alleged that, due to social distancing orders put in place in light of COVID-19, gathering signatures in support of petitions became significantly more difficult. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the timing requirements for petitions were unconstitutional and injunctive relief relaxing the timing requirements for petitions that otherwise met the signature quantity requirements. Plaintiffs also sought declaration that the Michigan constitution's threshold signature requirements conflicted with other state constitutional rights and injunctive relief reducing the number of signatures required.