A Michigan judge has tossed out a Democratic policy that unilaterally prevented gun owners from carrying their firearms at polling sites.
Democrats in the state are promising a fight after Judge Christopher Murray struck down the open carry ban, as the Washington Examiner reported.
“How is that in accordance with state law?”
According to The Detroit News, the judge argued that Michigan’s secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, did not go through the proper rulemaking process when she enacted a ban on open carrying within 100 feet of polling locations.
“The Legislature has said: Here are the places you cannot carry a weapon,” Murray said in his ruling. “The secretary has expanded that. And so how is that in accordance with state law?”
Democrats in Michigan have said that the Oct. 16 rule is necessary to prevent voter intimidation, ostensibly by right-wing groups with the tacit support of Donald Trump. Michigan Dems ramped up calls for the open carry ban after the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap the state’s Democrat governor, Gretchen Whitmer — a crime that Whitmer blamed, without evidence, on the president.
Democrats have similarly claimed, baselessly, that Trump has encouraged white supremacist groups and that he has sought to gin up voter intimidation with calls for his supporters to watch the polls.
Benson and the state’s attorney general, for their part, have promised to fight Murray’s decision. “As the state’s chief elections officer, I have the sworn duty to protect every voter and their right to cast the ballot free from intimidation and harassment,” Benson said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I will continue to protect that right in Michigan.”
Not “the right way,” not “the right time”
In his ruling, however, Judge Murray pointed out that voter intimidation is already a crime and that open carry is banned in certain voting locations already.
Moreover, Benson should have enacted the rule “months ago,” Murray said, and it should have been done through the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). “The secretary just didn’t do this in the right way and at the right time,” Murray said, according to the Free Press.
In effect, Benson was creating a new administrative rule that conflicted with state law, and without necessary public input, Murray said. Benson “could do absolutely anything regarding elections, and not have to comply with the APA,” if allowed to go ahead, Murray said.
According to The Detroit News, the state’s assistant attorney general has argued that there “is no affirmative right to open carry in all places at all times.”
But Benson’s decision sparked pushback from gun rights groups, and some sheriffs said they would not enforce it, as Fox News reported. Now, it looks like they won’t have to.