Today, we joined with a coalition of labor unions to ask a court to rule that state officials blatantly violated the Open Meetings Act when they locked the public out of the Capitol in 2012 as lawmakers deliberated over the controversial right-to-work law.
The case, filed on behalf of a journalist, citizens, legislators, and unions, charges that government officials, in an unprecedented assault on democracy, deprived the public of their right to participate in the legislative process.
Let's take a look at a 2012 open letter to the Governor from our Executive Director Kary Moss, written right after the Capitol Lockout.
Dear Governor Snyder:
The events today at the State Capitol have been extremely disappointing. The state court’s quick granting of an injunction, ruling the closing of the Capitol was unconstitutional, shows the gross impropriety of the decisions made.
The closing of the Capitol while controversial bills are passed during a lame duck session is a bad way to make public policy under the best of circumstances.
Doing so on such important and polarizing issues as reproductive freedom for women, religious refusals and the so-called “right to work” legislation while the public is shut out from the debate makes us a national embarrassment.
We ask that you veto these bills:
- Veto the extreme measures that put women's health at risk, limiting insurance coverage of abortion care (SB 613 and SB 614).
- Veto the last minute ban on abortion coverage that made its way into an unrelated Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan bill (SB 1293 and SB 1294).
- Veto the biased and dangerous measures that allow religion to be used to discriminate against sick and vulnerable people who need health care services (SB 975).
- Veto ‘right to work’ legislation that was passed while hundreds of hardworking Michiganders were locked out of the Capitol.
Today’s events have serious free speech implications such as offending the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government – cornerstones of our democracy. It is a sad day in America when constituents from either side of a debate are prevented from witnessing lawmakers do business they were elected to do.
While there may have been dissent, and emotions are running high, it is at these times that we should be encouraging more open debate, not closing the doors to concerned voters.
Very truly yours,
Kary L. Moss
ACLU of Michigan Executive Director