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Ruling that puts Conyers on the ballot also a victory for Michigan ACLU

The court ruling that put Detroit Congressman John Conyers back on the primary ballot is also a victory for voting rights advocates.

A federal judge recently declared a Michigan law that required petition circulators to be registered voters unconstitutional.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office has now opted not to appeal.

The Michigan ACLU filed the federal lawsuit challenging the law, and ACLU legal director Michael Steinberg says the group has been fighting similar laws “for quite some time.”

Earlier this year, the state had revised a law requiring petition circulators to be state residents, much less registered voters, after an ACLU challenge.

However, Steinberg says they “inexplicably neglected” to amend the law when it came to petition circulators for partisan candidates. So when the group heard about Conyers’ situation, they filed suit again.

“We’re not surprised at all that the Secretary of State decided not to appeal,” Steinberg says, “given that courts across the country have ruled that laws banning non-registered voters from circulating nominating petitions unconstitutional.”

Steinberg calls the decision a victory for those who “cherish Americans’ fundamental right to engage in political activity, free of arbitrary government restrictions.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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