Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law
Campaign Overview

Since 2011, the NLG (National Lawyers Guild), along with the Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Justice, the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union) of Michigan, and NLG private attorneys; Goodman & Hurwitz P.C., Constitutional Litigation Associates P.C. and Law Office of Herb Sanders (all donating their time and resources pro-bono), have been working tirelessly on a constitutional challenge to Michigan’s EM (Emergency Manager) law PA-436. The first iteration of this draconian law, PA-4, was one of newly elected Rick Snyder’s first acts as governor. In response, the NLG and Sugar Law Center jointly filed the first legal challenge, while working simultaneously and actively with the grassroot coalition Stand Up for Democracy, and other grassroots efforts, to repeal the law through a public referendum. In November of 2012, Michigan residents cast their votes and repealed PA-4.  However, this victory was short lived as the Republican majority house and senate used the 2012 “lame duck” session to enact the “new and improved” version of the PA-4 law, PA-436. This time with a provision protecting it from public referendum, making the new law impossible to repeal.  Immediately after PA-436 went into effect in early 2013, the legal team, now joined by the CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) in New York, filed a new federal challenge to the constitutionality of the law.


  • 2011

    Michigan’s recently elected Governor Rick Snyder enacts Public Act 4, Michigan’s ‘Emergency Financial Manager’ law. Unlike PA-4’s predecessor PA-72, which granted limited powers to Financial Managers and was only put to use 7 times between 1988 and 2010, PA-4 was put to immediate use in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Ecorse, Flint, and Detroit Public Schools. This sparked public outcry, and state wide grassroots coalitions began to form and organize to repeal Public Act 4.

  • 2012

    By the end of 2012, emergency financial managers had been placed in the Cities of Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Ecorse, Flint, Allen Park, and in the school districts of Highland Park, Muskegon Heights and Detroit.

    On August 8th, the referendum petitions were approved by the State Board of Canvassers, as a result PA-4 was suspended and PA-72 was reinstated until the vote.