Emergency Manager Law Challenged in Federal Court

Sugar Law Center Mounts Court Challenge to Restore Democracy

Lawsuit Aims to Restore Rule of Law, Rights of Voters’ and their Elected Officials

DETROIT – Today the Sugar Law Center filed suit in federal court, U.S. District Court, Eastern District Michigan, directly challenging the actions of Governor Snyder and the arbitrary imposition of unelected officials to run the City of Detroit and other cities across Michigan. In response to voters rejection of Public Act 4 in November, the Michigan Governor and state officials quickly passed a new emergency manager law – Public Act 436 – retaining the emergency manager provisions rejected by the voters.

Last week, Gov. Snyder named Kevyn Orr, formerly of the Jones Day law firm, as Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager following the earlier appointments of managers in the cities of Allen Park, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, and Pontiac and three school districts.  When Public Act 436 takes effect today, each of these Emergency Managers are now granted the power to override and overrule virtually any laws, contracts or agreements established by any branch of city government.

While there are specific conflicts of interests with Mr. Orr, and emergency managers’ records are poor, the lawsuit aims to correct a law that is basically unconstitutional because it strikes at the heart of the democratic process.

 “This Governor is injecting Emergency Managers between the voters and the people they elected and that is in direct opposition to a government by the people and for the people,” said John Philo, Legal Director for the Sugar Law Center. “We can all argue about how and what Detroit needs.  But, at the end of the day, the solutions we choose must be constitutional and they must come from the elected representatives of the people who will have to live those solutions.  Replacing legally elected leaders without an election or a conviction is fundamentally, anti-democratic, anti-voter and unconstitutional.”

The Sanders Law Firm and Goodman & Hurwitz PC on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, Michigan chapter, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Constitutional Litigation Associates, PC are also co-counsel in the lawsuit filed today.