HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 18Issue 27Michigan Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Proposed Casino Ballot Proposal

On Thursday, August 30, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments relating to whether a proposal to allow eight new casinos in the state of Michigan should be on the November ballot.  Proponents of the ballot proposal filed an appeal with the court after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers did not certify the language for the ballot on Monday, August 27, 2012.

The casino ballot proposal was one of four ballot appeals filed with the court, and the court heard oral arguments on all four matters.  The opponents of the ballot proposal have contended that it conflicts with existing language in the constitution, and thus required publication of the specific existing constitutional language being impacted as part of the petition process.  Article XII, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution requires this if the existing constitutional provisions are being “altered or abrogated.”

The proponents of the ballot proposal have argued that such specificity is not required if the provisions of the ballot proposal language can be harmonized with the existing constitutional language by a court in the future, and argued that such harmonization could occur.

The ballot proposal provides for eight new casinos, each of which are to receive liquor licenses. An existing constitutional provision (Article IV, Section 40) provides that the Liquor Control Commission shall “exercise complete control of the alcoholic beverage traffic” within the state.  Opponents of the ballot proposal have argued that the proponents should have published Article IV, Section 40 as part of the petition process.

Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. made it clear from his questioning that he would like to determine clear definitions for the relevant terms “altered or  abrogated” and directed many of his questions to this topic.

A decision by the Michigan Supreme Court is expected soon, as according to existing state guidelines, the ballot initiatives must be certified by Board of State Canvassers by September, 7, 2012, in order to be placed onto the ballot.


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