The Michigan Supreme Court came to a 5-2 decision on Thursday to add an abortion rights amendment to the state Constitution in the November midterms.

The decision headed to the state’s Supreme Court after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked in a 2-2 party-line vote, with Democrats voting in favor of the measure and Republicans opposing.

The board’s role is normally procedural and is there to acknowledge that a proposed measure received the 450,000 signatures needed. The amendment’s sponsor, a group called Reproductive Freedom for All, was able to collect nearly double that number with 700,000 signatures. The support indicated by the signatures reflects Michigan polling, in which legal abortion is widely supported in the state.

The two Republicans on the panel rejected the measure over what they said was a formatting error. They did not dispute the number of votes needed to get the measure on the ballot.


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Chief Justice Bridget McCormack issued a blistering response.

“Seven hundred fifty-three thousand and seven hundred fifty-nine Michiganders signed this proposal — more than have ever signed any proposal in Michigan’s history,” she wrote. “The challengers have not produced a single signer who claims to have been confused by the limited-spacing sections in the full-text portion of the proposal. Yet two members of the Board of State Canvassers would prevent the people of Michigan from voting on the proposal.”

The two dissenting justices agreed with the two Republicans, arguing that oral arguments should be held before making a decision.

“It may have the right words in the right order,” Justice David Viviano wrote, before adding, “but the lack of critical word spaces renders the remaining text much more difficult to read and comprehend.”

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