Last Tuesday we reported that an Ingham County Judge had issued a temporary restraining order against House Republicans. This information was reported to us by the House Democratic Caucus, but was based on a misunderstanding between the Court and the House attorneys. The Republican Caucus received the same message as the Democrats at the time. Their response:
House Republicans say they follow the rules and the constitution and they weren’t given the chance to defend themselves in court.
On Wednesday we received word that the Judge had not yet signed a restraining order, and we had to wait until the hearing today to get the matter settled. The hearing went as expected:
Judge Clinton Canady III issued a temporary restraining order Monday afternoon compelling House Republicans in the majority party to hold recorded roll call votes when at least 22 Democrats request one.
Democrats in the minority party sued House Speaker Jase Bolger and the GOP leaders last week because Bolger or Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia, would not recognize their request for a recorded roll call vote. The state constitution states that a roll call “shall” be conducted whenever requested by one-fifth of the House members.
“I don’t see how the House Rules can circumvent the constitution that says they’d be entitled to a roll call vote,” Canady told lawyers representing the feuding legislators. “Each citizen has a right to know — upon the appropriate request being made by members of the Legislature — how people vote on issues such as these.”
Of course you can always count on God’s Aspiring Governor, Bill Schuette, to jump in:
Attorney General Bill Schuette, representing the House’s majority party, will ask the Michigan Court of Appeals to immediately consider an appeal later this week, said spokeswoman Joy Yearout.
On what basis?
Michael Murphy, an assistant attorney general representing the House Republican leaders, warned the judge that his order could make him the “referee forever” between the two “squabbling siblings.”
“Whether we like the way they do business over there doesn’t make it illegal or improper,” Murphy told Canady.
The hypocrisy is stunning.
Anywaaaayyyy … now that the restraining order is in effect, the status of three bills are called into question. From the press release issued by Richard Hammel today,
“I appreciate the diligence of the court in making a timely ruling granting our request for a preliminary injunction. I look forward to a final decision affirming our claims protecting the Michigan Constitution and protecting against – as the Judge said – irreparable harm to the public. The preliminary injunction prevents the majority from ignoring Members when they demand a record roll call on immediate effect if one fifth of the House Members demand it. Judge Canady III also enjoined the immediate effect given to House Bills 4246, 4929 and 5063. HB 4246 prohibits graduate student research assistants from collectively bargaining. HB 4929 prohibits public schools from collecting dues for teacher unions. HB 5063 prohibits Michigan residents from circulating ballot petitions without the approval of the State Board of Canvassers. “
4246 in particular is a sticky situation, because it has already taken effect and negatively impacted the University of Michigan students that the Republicans had targeted with the bill. I’m not sure how that will play out. I have more detail in my earlier post here.
So to sum up the lesson here: Republicans worship the Constitution as an icon, they just don’t respect it as law.