March 9, 2024 Press Release


March 9, 2024


LuAnne Kozma, Campaign Director, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, 231-547-2828, [email protected]

Jan BenDor, Co-Founder, MI Right to Vote, 734-484-1744, [email protected]


Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan and MI Right To Vote comment on Graziano et al v Director of Elections and Michigan Supreme Court’s denial for leave to appeal

Charlevoix and Superior Township (Washtenaw County), Mich – Two statewide ballot question committees that filed amicus briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court in the Graziano et al v Director of Elections case have the following statements on yesterday’s Michigan Supreme Court order to not hear the case that challenged the constitutionality of the 180-day signature-gathering law for ballot initiative petitions, and sought leave to appeal a decision to seek review in the Court of Claims.

From the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan (, whose ballot initiative and signatures were at the heart of the case, has the following statement by campaign director LuAnne Kozma:

“Four signers of the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s ballot initiative petition sought leave in the Michigan Supreme Court, seeking an appeal of lower court decisions that denied them access to challenging the constitutionality of the state law restricting signature-gathering for ballot initiatives to 180 days. And like the Committee’s own litigation some years ago, the high court again refused to review the merits of those claims. It’s a travesty that this unlawful restriction on Michigan voters’ petitioning rights is being held inoculated from any constitutional challenge. As our Committee found out, a ballot committee cannot challenge the law before filing signatures. And if filing any signatures past the 180-day window, the only avenue after a Board of State Canvassers’ denial, (thanks to a 2018 lame duck law amending MCL 168.479) is the Supreme Court, which also refused to hear on the merits our own case challenging the law’s unconstitutionality. As Justice Welch observed in her dissent, our Committee was ‘in a ‘tails you lose, heads I win’ dilemma.’ The Graziano appellants met the same brick wall.”

“We agree with Justice Elizabeth Welch’s dissent in yesterday’s order, that the Graziano plaintiffs should have had their complaint heard in the Court of Claims, and the Supreme Court should have heard the constitutional challenge to the 180-day signature-gathering law. Justice Welch wrote:

‘The complaint, which disputes the constitutionality of the signature time limit set forth in MCL 168.472a, is the exact sort of challenge that the Court of Claims exists to hear.’

. . . 

‘By denying leave to appeal, moreover, this Court avoids hearing the potentially meritorious arguments that MCL 168.472a is unconstitutional.’

“Justice Welch’s dissent is now the second from the higher courts on the courts’ refusals to hear cases on the merits about the constitutionality of the restrictive signature-gathering law. In 2021, in a Court of Appeals decision denying the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s similar appeal, Judge Shapiro dissented, stating MCL 168.472a is ‘plainly violative of the state Constitution. It is a blatant attempt by the Legislature to interfere with the people's self-retained right to initiate legislation.’  Shapiro also opined that the lame duck law could not possibly mean that the Supreme Court had sole jurisdiction, writing: "I cannot conclude that in amending MCL 168.479 the Legislature intended to forever bar a declaratory-judgment action as to the constitutionality of MCL 168.472a, and I cannot approve of the Catch-22 allowed for by the majority that effectively precludes judicial review.”


From MI Right to Vote Co-Founders Fred Green and Jan BenDor on the denial of the Graziano Appellants' application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court issued March 8, 2024:


"As the authors of an amicus curiae brief supporting this application, we read the Michigan Supreme Court's denial with great disappointment. The Court said only, '...we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by the Court.' Our response is--if not now, when? Michigan's citizens have the good fortune under Michigan's Constitution to have the power of direct democracy which allows our right of initiative. However, the legislature has deliberately weakened this power by allowing a mere six months for circulation of initiative petitions. Half of every year is potentially eliminated by Michigan's winter season. Fear of COVID-19 has made it much harder to recruit unpaid volunteers.” 


"As Justice Welch stated in her insightful dissent, '...the Legislature has arguably placed an extraordinary burden upon people hoping to exercise their constitutional right to the initiative. MCL 168.472a effectively limits the initiative power to committees with large funds to hire signature collectors. Although no one would doubt that a statute imposing a single-day time limit to gather initiative signatures would not pass constitutional muster, I believe it is the job of this Court to decide what limits in fact do pass muster.' The Court must take up this question and protect  our Constitutional right to petition, especially in this time of dire threats to democracy.”




See Michigan Supreme Court Order #164763, can be found HERE.


Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan:

  • LuAnne Kozma
    published this page in Press Releases 2024-03-09 17:10:34 -0500