Michigan appellate court denies GOP legislature’s appeal request in court of claims abortion ruling

GOP-led legislature sought to appeal ruling that blocks state AG from enforcing 1931 abortion ban

Activists with "Rise Up 4 Abortion" demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) (Anna Moneymaker, 2022 Getty Images)

The Michigan Court of Appeals has denied a request by intervening defendants to review a court of claims ruling that bars the acting state attorney general from enforcing a 1931 abortion ban.

The appellate court on Wednesday denied an application for leave to appeal that was filed by the GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature in their role as intervening defendants in an abortion-related case in the Michigan Court of Claims.

In May, court of claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled in favor of plaintiffs Planned Parenthood of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union, who are suing Michigan AG Dana Nessel in an effort to block enforcement of the state’s 1931 law that bans most abortions. Gleicher issued a preliminary injunction, ruling that Nessel -- or any acting Michigan attorney general -- is not allowed to enforce the ban, agreeing with plaintiffs that the law violates the Michigan Constitution.

In an effort to uphold the 1931 law, the Michigan Legislature joined the lawsuit as intervening defendants.

The defendants initially filed a motion in June asking the Court of Claims to reconsider the preliminary injunction, but that request was denied. On July 6, the intervening defendants filed for an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, a higher court, in hopes of appealing Judge Gleicher’s ruling.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the appellate court responded to the request, denying the motion. The ruling said intervening defendants failed to “persuade the court of the need for immediate appellate review.” The court order is quite brief, but you can find the official document below.

Republican lawmakers also filed a motion requesting Judge Gleicher disqualify herself from hearing the case, claiming she is unable to remain impartial. Gleicher denied the request for several reasons.

More on that: Judge denies Michigan Legislature’s request to disqualify herself from abortion lawsuit

The legislature did find temporary success with the appeals court on another matter, however. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Aug. 1 that Judge Gleicher’s preliminary injunction only applied to the statewide attorney general, and not to individual county prosecutors -- effectively allowing the state’s 83 county prosecutors to enforce the 1931 abortion ban.

That ruling was only in effect for a few hours, until an Oakland County Circuit Court judge granted a temporary restraining order that barred county prosecutors from enforcing the ban. The circuit court heard arguments for and against the restraining order last week, and on Aug. 19 granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks prosecutors from enforcing the law.

As of Aug. 26, abortion care is not punishable by law in Michigan.

More: Here is a detailed explanation of this year’s abortion-related lawsuits in Michigan and where they stand

The circuit court injunction will be revisited later this year, with a pre-trial date set for Nov. 21. However, it is likely that a ballot proposal will end up on the Nov. 8 ballot, allowing Michigan voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to legalize abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. So, if Michigan voters vote to legalize abortion care, this would nullify the courts’ rulings.

The Board of State Canvassers is set to meet at the end of the month to make a final decision on the ballot proposal.

Read more: Michigan board recommends certification of abortion ballot initiative for Nov. election

Read the entire Aug. 26 Michigan Court of Appeals decision below.


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.