The American Civil Liberties Union, along with several other labor coalitions, asked a judge to eliminate the recently passed right-to-work law, which is set to take effect March 27.
The recent lockout of the public in the Capitol during the approval of this right-to-work law is said to violate three major laws regarding the law making process: The Open Meetings Act, the First Amendment and the Michigan Constitution.
“By locking the doors to the Capitol building and using staffers to fill seats intended for citizens during the session that adopted the right-to-work law on Dec. 6, the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate clearly violated the Open Meetings Act,” said Judith Kullberg, associate professor for the department of political science at Eastern Michigan University.
Not only did unions like the ACLU make this lawsuit case possible, but legislators, citizens and journalists also had their part in filing it.
The lawsuit charges government officials with taking away the public’s right to participate in the legislative process, which they did by placing Michigan State Police officers in position to block citizens, journalists and others from entering the Capitol.
This started on Dec. 6, 2012 while the doors were locked during the debates and votes on the right-to-work laws and other bills between the House and Senate floors. People were locked out for at least four hours and legislative staff occupied the House floor galleries, preventing others from entering.
“You should be allowed to have a voice in how you work or in anything you do,” said Denzel Moten, an EMU freshman. “The fact that the people who are actually going to be following these new laws do not have a voice into what they say or do. So I am happy that they are fighting against it and I hope they do win.”
The first right-to-work language was introduced on the House and Senate floors on the same day the bills were passed, which occurred during the lockout and during the lame-duck session. The lawsuit is being challenged under a state law called the Open Meetings Act.
The Open Meetings Act holds the government accountable to the public by invalidating any law or bill passed when sessions are not open to the public.
“They basically set themselves up for epic failure. Like why set a law for the people but keep the people out. That is such a contradiction. You cannot make it for the people if it is not by the people,” said Diondra Harmon, a double major in primary and secondary English education at EMU.
The lawsuit challenging the Michigan right-to-work bill is now in front of Ingham County 30th Circuit Court Judge William E. Collette.
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