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Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan

Description: Planned Parenthood and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are apparently working together to invalidate a 1931 state law that protects unborn lives. The lawsuit’s premise is that the U.S. Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel
Friday, May 20, 2022

LANSING, Mich. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a complaint Friday on behalf of two county prosecutors and two pro-life groups asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to take control of the case Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan and order the lower court to dismiss it after that court glaringly exceeded its jurisdiction.

In the case, involving a 1931 state law that protects unborn lives, Planned Parenthood and Attorney General Dana Nessel agreed the statute should be invalidated because they fear the U.S. Supreme Court might soon overturn its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. The Court of Claims judge in the case, who represented Planned Parenthood before ascending to the bench, declined to dismiss the lawsuit as would have been appropriate since both sides favor the same outcome. Instead, without any briefing defending the law or even a hearing on the substance of the case, she issued a sweeping order on May 17 finding that the Michigan Constitution likely creates a right to abortion and suggesting that prosecuting attorneys are barred from enforcing the law, even though they are not parties to the lawsuit and never presented any arguments in the case.

“It’s entirely inappropriate for the lower court to act without jurisdiction, without any parties in opposition, and while ignoring the binding court of appeals precedent that found no right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch.

“In short, the Court of Claims action has become a runaway train and only this Court can press on the brakes…,” the ADF complaint explains. “Michigan courts lack jurisdiction over manufactured disputes where there is no adversity, no actual controversy, and the plaintiff’s claims are hypothetical, moot, and not ripe…. It is up to this Court to restore the rule of law in Michigan. And it must do so immediately, before this litigation erodes the public’s perception of a fair and impartial judiciary any further.”

In the complaint, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Gerard M. Jarzynka, Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher R. Becker, Right to Life of Michigan, and the Michigan Catholic Conference ask the appeals court to issue an order requiring the Court of Claims to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. They also filed an accompanying motion asking the court to immediately consider the matter.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT John Bursch

John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.