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Abortion Amendment WILL Appear on Michigan Ballots After MI Supreme Court Hands Down Scathing Ruling

A hand holds up a small handwritten cardboard sign against a city sky background reading "We won't go back"

In a 5–2 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that a massively popular abortion referendum will appear on November ballots after an elections board tried to block it.

The measure would amend the state constitution to explicitly protect access to abortion. The petition to get the amendment on the ballot received a historic number of signatures in support, but the Board of Canvassers took issue with some minuscule typos in the text, where it appeared there were some missing or compressed spaces between some words. They claimed those spacing issues made the text “gibberish” and that it was “unreadable.”

That was very clearly not the case, as anyone could see from screenshots of the text. And the state Supreme Court agreed and ordered the board to certify the proposed amendment.

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack’s displeasure with the board’s transparent attempt to disenfranchise voters came across clear in her decision.

“The challengers have not produced a single signer who claims to have been confused by the limited-spacing sections in the full text portion of the proposal. Yet two members of the Board of State Canvassers would prevent the people of Michigan from voting on the proposal because they believe that the decreased spacing makes the text no longer ‘[t]he full text.’ That is, even though there is no dispute that every word appears and appears legibly and in the correct order, and there is no evidence that anyone was confused about the text, two members of the Board of State Canvassers with the power to do so would keep the petition from the voters for what they purport to be a technical violation of the statute,” she wrote.

“They would disenfranchise millions of Michiganders not because they believe the many thousands of Michiganders who signed the proposal were confused by it, but because they think they have identified a technicality that allows them to do so, a game of gotcha gone very bad. What a sad marker of the times.”

In addition to the ruling on the amendment, a Michigan judge also ruled this week that an abortion ban passed in 1931 is unconstitutional and has blocked it from being enforced. The fight for abortion rights in Michigan is going strong.

(image: Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.