A federal appeals court is hearing a dispute over Michigan’s emergency manager law. In 2014, a judge in Detroit swept aside most claims in a lawsuit by critics. But he allowed the case to go forward on whether the law violates the U.S. Constitution by having a disproportionate impact on communities with large black populations. The appeals court will hear arguments Thursday in Cincinnati. Emergency managers have exceptional power to run local governments and school districts, while elected officials typically are pushed aside for 18 months or more. Michigan voters overturned Governor Rick Snyder’s first emergency manager law in 2012. But he and fellow Republicans in the Legislature came back with another version. The state has had a law allowing for the takeover of local governments and schools in a financial emergency since Governor Jim Blanchard signed Public Act 101 in 1988 due to a fiscal emergency in Hamtramck. It was amended in 1990 and replaced in 2011 by Public Act 4, which itself has been replaced.
Benton Harbor and Three Oaks have both gone through the process of being run by an emergency manager in recent years.