News Column

Michigan Emergency Manager Unconstitutional, NAACP Suit Says

May 13, 2013

The Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is challenging the constitutionality of the state's emergency manager law in federal court, claiming it unfairly targets African Americans and dilutes their voting rights.

In its lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court, the NAACP charged that the EM law "has had a disparate and discriminatory impact on voters of color." According to the lawsuit, 50.4 percent of the state's 1.4 million African Americans are now ruled by emergency managers, compared to 1.3 percent of the white residents who are governed by an EM.

"This disparate and discriminatory impact on voters of color has resulted in a dilution of the value of the individual's right to vote for locally-elected officials of their choosing," the lawsuit states.

The NAACP is asking the court to grant an injunction or issue a judgment stating that the emergency manager law violates the Equal Protection Clause because it "results in voter dilution" in the communities where EMs have been placed.

Currently, emergency managers have been appointed in Detroit, Pontiac, Allen Park, Benton Harbor, the Detroit Public School System, Ecorse, Flint, the Highland Park School System and the Muskegon Heights School System.

The lawsuit is against Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed the EM law in December, Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

State officials were not readily available for comment.


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