Update on Lawsuit Against Michigan Polling Place Restrictions on Open Carry

  • Date:
  • October 30th, 2020

By: Jacob Charles

As I wrote about earlier this week, there's been a lot of recent action around Michigan's new restrictions on carrying firearms into polling places. Although the legal challenge was not framed in Second Amendment terms, the individuals and gun-rights advocacy groups who brought the lawsuit presented the case as a conflict between their right to vote and their right to keep and bear arms. The trial court entered a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, halting enforcement of the restrictions. And last night, the Michigan court of appeals refused to intervene. In its order denying the state leave to appeal the ruling, the court added:

We wish to clarify two important points as election day rapidly approaches. First, while the civil-rights amicus brief raises legitimate concerns about voter intimidation throughout this country’s history, the Michigan Legislature has given the Executive Branch important and necessary tools to prevent voter intimidation: Voter intimidation is—and remains—illegal under current Michigan law. MCL 168.932(a), 168.744(1); see also 18 USC 594. Second, brandishing a firearm in public is—and remains—illegal under current Michigan law. MCL 750.234e. Accordingly, anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm (or, for that matter, by threatening with a knife, baseball bat, fist, or otherwise menacing behavior) is committing a felony under existing law, and that law is—and remains—enforceable by our Executive branch as well as local law enforcement.

The state has now sought review in the Michigan Supreme Court, so the matter may not be resolved just yet.