Michigan GOP plots to strip power from newly elected attorney general


Michigan Republicans are hoping to undermine the role of newly elected Attorney General Dana Nessel in the lame-duck session.

The GOP-controlled Michigan legislature kicked off its lame-duck session by decimating the paid sick leave and minimum wage laws.

They weren't content to stop there, however. On Thursday, Republican legislator Rob VerHeulen introduced a bill that would let the legislature intervene in legal proceedings when the state is a party.

As the law stands now, the Michigan attorney general represents the interests of the state in court. The legislature can intervene in the lawsuit, but only with the permission of the judge. It's an issue now because the current Michigan attorney general, conservative Republican Bill Schuette, will be replaced on January 1 by liberal Democrat Dana Nessel.

During the 2018 campaign, Nessel had indicated that she likely wouldn't defend a homophobic law on the books in Michigan. The state currently lets faith-based groups bar same-sex couples from adopting.

Schuette was eager to defend the law, but Nessel said if she were elected, she'd tell the legislature to hire its own lawyers and defend the law on its own, because the law is patently unconstitutional and discriminatory.

If the GOP gets their way, though, they'll be able to intervene to defend the law, likely on the public dime and with no need for permission from the judge handling the case.

Although the bill hasn't advanced yet, it was immediately praised by Republican leaders.

Nessel, rightly so, pointed out the bill would undermine the role of the attorney general at a time when the voters of Michigan chose a Democratic attorney general for the first time in 24 years.

But the spokesperson for the Speaker of the House, Tom Leonard, absurdly insisted that this is just "good government reform" that gives legislators a voice in public policy. Of course, this ignores the fact that the legislature already has a voice in public policy because it has the authority to make laws.

Michigan's GOP legislators have no intention of recognizing the fact that they lost three important statewide offices: governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Instead, they're going to continue to use the lame-duck session to impose their views, regardless of what the people of Michigan want.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.