While the judge did not rule on the specific merits of the lawsuit, he found that the Republican Party and the Republican National Committee lacked sufficient standing to file the complaint.
A Michigan circuit court judge has dismissed a Republican-led lawsuit that sought the deployment of additional Republican inspectors to Flint in preparation for the upcoming general election.
According to MLive.com, Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Mark W. Latchana dismissed the complaint shortly after a Wednesday hearing.
The lawsuit, adds MLive.com, was originally filed by the Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee. The complaint named as defendants three Flint officials, and alleged that the city had failed to appoint an equal number of Democratic and Republican election inspectors.
In his ruling, Latchana found that the two conservative organizations had failed to establish that they had the legal standing necessary to file the lawsuit.
Latchana, notes MLive.com, did not consider the lawsuit’s merits. Instead, he simply sided with city attorneys, who argued that state law only permits the county chairs of political parties to take such complaints to court.
“The Legislature intended for the county chairs to be the point of enforcement with regard to these issues — not the statewide or national committees,” Latchana wrote.
However, the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that either or both defendants could re-file it upon reconsideration of their arguments.
The Michigan Republican Party has already announced that it intends to appeal the court’s ruling.
Gustavo Portela, a Republican Party spokesperson, said that it was “unacceptable” that most of Flint’s election inspectors are Democrats.
“Michigan law requires as close to possible of an equal number of Republican and Democrat election inspectors,” Portela said. “Flint has over 80 percent Democrat inspectors, and over 90 percent Democrat inspectors for the Absentee Vote Counting Boards. This is unacceptable.”
Nevertheless, Flint City Attorney William Kim said that, even if conservatives file a revised complaint, their effort is likely to fail—not just because the Republicans lack standing, but because “the claims themselves have no legal merit.”
“The whole lawsuit is an attempt to disrupt the elections in Flint,” Kim added.
“Frivolous lawsuits used to create political theatre have no place in our judicial system,” Kim said. “Interim City Clerk Davina Donahue is focused on ensuring that Flint’s voters can fully exercise their right to vote now through November 8.”
In court documents, Flint attorneys observed that conservative inspector candidates—who claimed they faced political discrimination by the city council—had been instructed to submit applications for the position, the same as prospective Democratic inspector candidates.
Flint, a mid-sized city in central Michigan, is a well-known liberal stronghold in an otherwise politically conservative area.