I had said that Conyers had a very strong argument that the law limiting petition circulators to residents was likely unconstitutional. The court agreed today, holding that the case was indistinguishable from earlier Sixth Circuit precedent, binding on the trial court, Nader v. Blackwell. The arguments that the state made to try to distinguish the Nader case seemed quite weak to me.
The big question in my mind was one of the doctrine of laches: did Conyers wait too long to raise this question? The trial court rejected the laches argument. Laches requires a showing of unreasonable delay in filing suit and prejudice. The judge found neither, noting that there was evidence the circulators who were not residents acted in good faith. (I’ve been a strong proponent of greater use of laches in election cases to prevent candidates from having an “option” to challenge rules only if they disadvantage them.)
We will now see if the State of Michigan takes this on expedited review to the Sixth Circuit, or leaves it where it is. Time is short before the printing of ballots.
The Attorney General’s Office didn’t indicate whether it would appeal.
“We are reviewing the decision in consultation with our client, the Secretary of State,” said spokeswoman Joy Yearout.
A decision on a possible appeal is not expected until next week.