The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has denied Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's petition for en banc review in Michigan State A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Johnson, the Michigan straight-party voting case. This effectively leaves in place the preliminary injunction entered by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain, which enjoins Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and the State of Michigan from enforcing the provisions of 2015 PA 268.
The Michigan Legislature enacted 2015 PA 268 last December for the purpose of eliminating the option of straight-party voting in Michigan elections. In July, however, the United States District Court preliminarily enjoined the act's enforcement, finding that it would illegally interfere with voting by lengthening lines at the polls and disproportionately burdening African Americans’ right to vote.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied Schuette’s request for a stay pending appeal, leaving in place Judge Drain's ruling. Schuette then asked the full Sixth Circuit to consider the matter en banc. The full court has now denied that request.
Of the 15 active Sixth Circuit judges permitted to participate in the decision, it appears that nine voted to deny the petition for en banc consideration. Dissenting Judges Danny Boggs, Alice Batchelder, Jeffrey Sutton, Richard Griffin, David McKeague, and Raymond Kethledge would have granted the petition. The case will now be considered on the merits by the three-judge panel, a process that is expected to take several months.
Accordingly, barring any unlikely action by the United States Supreme Court, straight-party voting will remain an option on this November's general election ballot in Michigan.