Michigan Appeals Court Voids "Reform" Initiative:

A state appellate court voted unanimously to remove a sweeping and controversial government reform initiative from the ballot, the Detroit News reports.

The ballot proposal, backed by Michigan Democrats and called Reform Michigan Government Now!, includes so many provisions that it is a "general revision" of the state constitution, which only a constitutional convention can accomplish, the court ruled in an opinion issued shortly before 6 p.m.

"Therefore, the constitutional power of a (citizen-led) initiative does not extend to this proposal," said the order signed by Judges Bill Schuette, William Whitbeck and Patrick Meter. "Consequently the initiative petition does not meet the constitutional prerequisites for acceptance."

The court ordered Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and the Board of State Canvassers not to place the measure on the ballot.

The initiative, pushed by a group called "Reform Michigan Government Now," was pitched as series of good-government reforms to shrink and streamline the state government. In reality, the ballot initiative was cleverly designed to shift partisan control of all three branches of Michigan's government, as I discussed here and here.

An appeal of this decision to the state Supreme Court is near certain, as will be motions seeking recusal of the two Supreme Court justices who would lose their seats. I don't know enough about Michigan law to predict an outcome, but it seems clear to me the ballot initiative is an exceedingly cyncial effort to steal a state government, and a bad idea.

UPDATE: The court opinion is available here.