Ban On Open Carry At MI Polls Rejected By Courts

A Michigan Court of Appeals decision that overturned a ban on openly carried firearms at or near polling places in the state will be the final word on the issue, after the state’s Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The court never responded to Benson’s request, and her office on Monday afternoon reluctantly issued a statement acknowledging that her ban would have no force of law on Election Day.

Soon after Benson’s original announcement in mid-October, many sheriffs and police chiefs across the state of Michigan expressed concern over the legality of her order, and the state’s association of police chiefs publicly stated that Benson simply didn’t have the authority to unilaterally bar legally carried firearms from the polls.

A collection of gun rights groups filed a lawsuit against the ban and won. The Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal. Benson asked the Supreme Court to weight in by 10 a.m. Monday whether it would consider an appeal, but the court didn’t respond.

“Though I am disappointed that the Supreme Court hasn’t provided guidance in advance of Election Day, it does not change the fact that voter intimidation is still illegal in Michigan,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in the release.
The ban wouldn’t have had any effect on the concealed carry of guns. Although concealed carry is already banned by state law at schools and most churches.
I’m somewhat surprised that the state Supreme Court didn’t hold a hearing, if only to agree with Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray, who was the first to rule against the ban, arguing that the issue needed to be addressed by the legislature and not imposed via an administrative order from Benson. Given the high-profile nature of the case, I would have expected the court to weigh in, but their silence speaks volumes as well.
Clearly Benson had no authority to impose her gun ban, just as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t have the authority to impose her COVID-19 orders (which were struck down by the state Supreme Court), but the blame can’t rest entirely on their shoulders. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who gave the thumbs up to both Benson’s and Whitmer’s orders, should face some tough questions over her endorsement of the power grabs, but I doubt that happens.
Nessel’s up for re-election in two years, however, and given her close victory in 2018, I suspect she’ll have plenty of Republicans lining up to challenge her.
Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET