Michigan's Jan 15 Primary Nixed By Judge?

According to the Detroit News:

Michigan's star-crossed bid to leap to the head of the presidential primary nominating process appeared to go up in smoke Wednesday as an Ingham County Circuit Court judge ruled that a provision in the law giving the Democratic and Republican parties exclusive access to voter lists from the Jan. 15 primary was unconstituional.

Judge William Collette said giving the parties exclusive access to the lists was equivalent to transferring public property to private interests and would have required 2/3 votes in the Legislature when the law was enacted last summer.

The list provision presented "a clear injury to the public interest," Collette said, shutting out citizens, journalists and activists for the benefit of the two major political parties.

Collette also said he was forced to suspend the primary, rather than merely invalidate the list provision, because the Legislature chose to include a "non-severability" clause in the law, making the entire act void if any part of it was struck down.

The lawsuit challenging the primary was brought by a group headed by Mark Grebner, an Ingham County commissioner and political list broker, that also included former Free Press political columnist Hugh McDiarmid.

Grebner said after the judge's ruling that he thought it unlikely the two parties, the Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm would be able to enact a new primary law in time to go ahead with the Jan. 15 primary, which was already under a cloud of doubt because the date violated national party rules. Both Democratic and Republican national committees have moved to disqualify some Michigan delegates from the nominating process, and several of the leading Democratic Party presidential candidates had pledged to boycott Michigan over the rules violation.

Granholm spokeswoman Megan Brown said Wednesday morning that Collette's ruling was under review, but that efforts would be made "to make sure Michigan remains relevant within the presidential primary."