Justice Center Calls on Governor to Remove MCRC Commissioners Violating the Law

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Commissioners on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) continue to defy the law. Moreover, they continue to violate their oath of office; the Great Lakes Justice Center calls on the Governor to remove these commissioners.

The Governor holds a constitutional duty to inquire into the administration of the MCRC.  Accordingly, he must review the acts of his appointed officials. Under the Constitution he holds the power to remove commissioners acting with malfeasance.

Background

On July 24, 2017, leftist activists asked the MCRC to expand the state’s Civil Rights Act (CRA). They wanted to add new categories: sexual orientation and gender identity. The CRA protects rights based upon “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.” Assistant Attorney General Ron Robinson, told the commissioners that they “[did not] have the authority to re-interpret the civil rights act.” Consequently, he informed them that such an action exceeded the scope of their power. Above all, Robinson told the commissioners that the power to amend the CRA resides solely with the state legislature.

On May 21, 2018, the commissioners defied the legal advice. They voted to add categories to the CRA. The commission’s action added gender identity and sexual orientation, categories explicitly rejected by the legislature numerous times.  The legislature’s repeated refusal to redefine the CRA leaves no ambiguity as to the meaning of the CRA.

The A.G.’s Ruling

Thereafter, at the request of the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, the Attorney General issued a formal legal ruling. The ruling invalidated the action of the MCRC:

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s Interpretative Statement 2018-1, which concludes that the term “sex” as used in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity, is invalid because it conflicts with the original intent of the Legislature as expressed in the plain language of the Act, and as interpreted by Michigan’s courts. Click here to read the AG Opinion in its entirety:   #7305 AG

Citizenship at its Best; Government at its Worst

The AG’s ruling is the law for state government entities. On July 23, 2018 citizens testified before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.  Every citizen testifying asked the MCRC to follow law. Executive Director Augustin Arbulu arrogantly responded by continuing to defy the law. First, he rejected the legally binding ruling. Second, he directed the department to investigate claims in defiance of the AG’s ruling.  All with the support of the commission.

The Michigan Constitution provides that “[t]he legislative power of the State of Michigan is vested in a senate and a house of representatives” The MCRC is not the Legislature and is not politically accountable to the people. In the binding AG Opinion, the Attorney General wrote:

Michigan’s Constitution entrusts the Legislature, and not executive agencies or commissions, with the authority to change, extend, or narrow statutes.  1963 Const, art 4, § 1.  Such changes to the law must be signed by the Governor (or passed with enough support to override a veto by the Governor).  1963 Const, art 4, § 33.  And under certain procedures, the people themselves may change the law.  1963 Const, art 2, § 9.  Agencies are bound by those laws; any authority they have to interpret a statute cannot be used to change the statute or to enforce the statute in a way that conflicts with the law’s plain meaning.

Under the Michigan constitution, only the legislature holds authority to amend the law.

The Governor’s Power to Remove

Where the conduct of the MCRC rises to misfeasance or malfeasance the Governor holds the power and duty to remove appointed public officers from their positions. The Michigan Constitution states:

The governor shall have power and it shall be his duty to inquire into the condition and administration of any public office and the acts of any public officer, elective or appointive. He may remove or suspend from office for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein, any elective or appointive state officer, except legislative or judicial, and shall report the reasons for such removal or suspension to the legislature.

The Governor of Michigan appoints the public officers serving as MCRC commissioners.

Michigan courts define malfeasance as “a wrongful or unlawful act.” Here, the MCRC  commissioners acted with malfeasance when they changed the meaning of CRA to further their personal political preferences. Because this action was outside the scope of authority given to the MCRC by the constitution, it constitutes a wrongful or unlawful act.

The constitution gives law-making authority to the house of representatives and the senate.  Because the MCRC is not a legislative body, it lacks law-making authority. Knowing they lacked legal authority to do so MCRC commissioners changed the meaning of the CRA, and proceeded with investigations.  These commissioners acted with malfeasance by intentionally stepping outside of the scope of their legal authority.

Conclusion – Commissioners Must Go.

The MCRC commissioners intentionally stepped beyond the scope of their authority. They engaged in malfeasance. Why? Because no one elected them.  Thus, the Governor of Michigan holds the power to remove them from their positions. He must do so.