by Bruce Walker
Controversy is swirling around Michigan Second District Court of Appeals Chief Judge Elizabeth L. Gleicher issuing a preliminary injunction Tuesday afternoon against the state’s moribund 1931 law criminalizing abortions.
Anti-abortion advocates, including Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, assert Gleicher should have recused herself in the case, Planned Parenthood v. Attorney General Dana Nessel, because Gleicher donates regularly to the organization. Additionally, Gleicher offered free legal services to the American Civil Liberties Union and its client Planned Parenthood in a late 1990s abortion case, Mahaffey v. Attorney General.
For her part, Nessel vehemently stated she would not prosecute the 1931 law, MCL 750.14, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision this spring. MCL 750.14 remained Michigan law, but has not been enforced in more than 90 years.
“Defendant Attomey General concurs with plaintiffs’ argument that MCL 750.14 is unconstitutional but does not offer any legal analysis in support of her concurrence: Rather, defendant argues that because she has publicly vowed not to defend or to enforce the law ‘there is at present a lack of adversity’ resulting in the absence of this Court’s subject-matter jurisdiction,” Gleicher wrote in her decision. “Defendant has not moved to dismiss the action on jurisdictional grounds, however.”
Gleicher was appointed to the bench in 2007 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat. Her current term expires Jan. 1, 2025.
“Today marks an important victory for Michiganders,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “The opinion from the Michigan Court of Claims is clear and sends the message that Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, should not go into effect even if Roe is overturned. It will help ensure that Michigan remains a place where women have freedom and control over their own bodies.”
Whitmer has filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Supreme Court in an attempt to resolve whether the state’s constitution protects abortion rights.
“While today’s preliminary injunction offers immediate, critical relief, we need the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in and establish the right to abortion under our state constitution,” Whitmer said. “We must protect the rights of nearly 2.2 million women in Michigan to make decisions about their bodies because however we personally feel about abortion, a woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Judge Elizabeth L. Gleicher” by Wayne State University Law School.