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Complaint asks MI appeals court to stop runaway lower court decision in pro-life law case

Judge issued illegitimate ruling halting state law with no opposition from pro-abortion attorney general

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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