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Lawyer: Deny Schuette appeal on straight-ticket ruling

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — A former Michigan Democratic Party chairman attacked Tuesday as legally unjustified Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request that a federal appeals court review a decision to suspend the state’s straight-ticket voting ban through the November election.

U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain issued the injunction on July 21 that temporarily blocked Michigan’s new law that bans straight-ticket voting – the practice of marking a ballot to select either all the Democratic candidates or all the Republican candidates.

Drain, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, argued that the law would infringe on the voting rights of African-Americans.

Schuette, a Republican, had asked the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to block Drain’s stay on the state’s straight ticket voting ban. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld Drain’s injunction in a ruling last week, and now Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are asking a federal appeals court to review the case again with the court’s entire panel of 16 judges.

Mark Brewer, a Southfield lawyer, argued in the Tuesday court filing that Johnson’s argument does not meet the stringent legal standards necessary to justify that the whole court review the preliminary injunction on the state’s straight ticket voting ban.

“Even if the District Court’s decision was erroneous – and it was not – that decision was not precedent setting and does not warrant an initial hearing (as a whole),” Brewer wrote in the court filing that was requested by the appeals court.

In a phone interview, the former Democratic chairman said the secretary of state and attorney general waited too long to to ask the Sixth Circuit to take another look at the case, making “it impossible for the court to grant her petition.”

“There’s not enough time to do what Schuette wants,” Brewer said, adding that it’s rare for the court to direct the respondents in a court case to file a counter-argument, “but the court directed us to do so, so we did.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/MikeGerstein