Eight former Michigan state legislators sue to overturn 1992 term limits ballot initiative

On November 20, eight former state legislators filed a legal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan to invalidate provisions of a ballot initiative that enacted term limits on legislators. The ballot initiative, titled Proposal B, was approved on November 3, 1992, with 58.7 percent of the vote. Proposal B was designed to limit the number of terms that a person could be elected to congressional, state executive, and state legislative offices in Michigan.
Plaintiffs sued to “vindicate their own rights to appear on the ballot, as well as their right to themselves vote for experienced candidates,” according to the complaint. Proposal B, according to the plaintiffs, violated their freedom of association as voters and officials. The complaint states, “[Proposal B] denies voters the opportunity to participate on an equal basis with other voters in the election of their choice of representatives, and denies such voters the ability [to] support an entire class of candidates—experienced legislators.” The former state legislators also contend that Proposal B, as presented to voters in 1992, violated the state’s single-subject rule and had prejudiced ballot language.
Patrick L. Anderson, an economist and principal author of Proposal B, responded to the litigation, saying, “It is disgraceful for people who took an oath to uphold the Michigan constitution, to now go before a federal judge and ask for it to be put aside.”
As of 2019, state legislators are subject to term limits in 15 states. State legislative term limits came through citizen-initiated ballot measures in each state except Louisiana, where the legislature referred a ballot measure to voters.
In Idaho, voters passed a ballot initiative for state legislative term limits, which the state legislature then repealed. In Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, voters approved ballot measures for state legislative term limits, which state supreme courts struck down as unconstitutional.
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