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Jason Hanselman, Gary Gordon Author Articles in January 2014 Issue of Michigan Bar Journal

Hanselman Examines State’s Constitutional Right to Recall Elected Officials; Gordon Explores Citizens’ Ability to Amend State Constitution by Direct Petition and Vote

January 15, 2014

Jason Hanselman and Gary Gordon, members of Dykema’s Government Policy & Practice Group each resident in the Firm’s Lansing, Michigan office, authored articles that appear in the January 2014 issue of Michigan Bar Journal, a monthly publication of the State Bar of Michigan that offers insight and analysis of legal issues pertinent to practitioners in the state.

Hanselman’s article—“Total Recall: Balancing the Right to Recall Elected Officials with the Orderly Operation of Government”—looks at Michigan’s long-standing constitutional provision to recall public officials, and explores more recent changes to the recall statute, prompted by dramatic increases in the number of recall petitions in 2011.

Offering his perspective on Public Act 217 (which was enacted on December 27, 2012), Hanselman observes that with this legislation, the state legislature used its plenary power as well as its explicit constitutional authority in an attempt to balance citizens’ right to recall with appropriate and reasonable procedures, practices, and requirements for the operation of recall. To read this article in its entirety, click here.

Gordon’s article, co-authored with Jim Holcomb, senior vice president and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, is “Constitutional Amendment by Petition and Popular Vote.”  This article provides a detailed history of how Michigan—one of just 17 states that permit amendment of its constitution by direct petition and general election vote—has refined and adjusted this process since originally adopted in 1908.

Gordon, who prior to joining Dykema served as Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Michigan, is recognized as one of the leading authorities on Michigan Election and Campaign Finance law. In the article, he and his co-author note that—since adoption of the 1963 Constitution—Michigan courts have rarely denied a proposal a place on the ballot after petitions with an adequate number of signatures have been filed.

Legal challenges persist, however, regarding the requirement to republish on the petition any provisions of the constitution that will be “altered or abrogated.” While the Michigan Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, issued its ruling on the matter, differences in how the language should be interpreted persist. To read this article in its entirety, click here.