Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:47 p.m. | A federal judge has ruled that 25-term Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. shall appear on his party’s Aug. 5 primary ballot.

A U.S. district judge in the Eastern District of Michigan decided Friday to grant an injunction ordering the state to put him on the ballot.

Earlier Friday, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had ruled the longtime lawmaker ineligible, according to The Detroit News.

“As Secretary Johnson implicitly acknowledged in her ruling today, if the signatures excluded pursuant to the Registration Statute may not be excluded from Mr. Conyers’ total — and this Court holds that they may not be — then Mr. Conyers has enough signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot,” Judge Matthew F. Leitman wrote. “He shall be placed on the ballot.” (The full opinion is here.)

Leitman was nominated to the federal bench last year by President Barack Obama. He was confirmed in March 2014.

A local county clerk had previously decided Conyers, 85, was ineligible. The secretary of State decision on Friday was the result of a Conyers campaign appeal.

But the Conyers campaign had also appealed to federal court on the constitutionality of the state’s law requiring campaigns’ petition circulators be registered voters. That’s what tripped up the longtime lawmaker’s bid.

Until recent weeks, Conyers’ re-election was assumed inevitable. But last week, two of Conyers’ petition signature gatherers were found to not be registered voters and any signatures they collected were ruled invalid. Consequently, Conyers did not meet the 1,000-signature threshold to appear on the ballot.

The Democratic National Committee issued statements last week from Obama and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reiterating their support for Conyers’ 2014 re-election.

Had he not gotten onto the ballot, Conyers’ two best options for re-election would likely include running as a write-in candidate in the primary or as an independent in the general. The judge’s ruling is bad news for the Democratic rival who initiated the investigation, the Rev. Horace Sheffield.

The race is rated Safe Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • Steve Dietrich

    25 Terms ???

    • ThinkMn

      Boehner been in the house for almost 30 yrs (14 terms). He was first elected in 1985. Google the house and checkout how many years each of the members have been in office. Its amazing how long they have served.

      • octagon999

        You write that like you think we aren’t against that also. 25 terms, 15 terms, 10 terms, is a disgrace and ill serves our Republic.

  • Layla

    This is GOOD NEWS for America. 85 years old and 25 terms in office? And just look at Detroit. Go home, Mr. Conyers, and live in the damage you are responsible for.

    • ThinkMn

      You think his democratic opponent (Rev. Horace Sheffield) is a good choice? And as for Detroit, how is he responsible for a city? He’s not major nor a CEO of the Auto industry. They are the ones that dropped the ball. Fed. House Reps have very little to do with the economic success of a city unless they can direct pork to it.

      • Layla

        I think I’d rather have a freshman in office rather than someone who has not done much for his constituents for the past 50 years. That’s too long for anybody to be in office. Jeeze!

        • gfstiel

          If you listen to Mr. Conyers talk I think you would quickly realize that he probably doesn’t even remember his name. As being a CEO, Mr. Conyers and his family have reigned over one of the most corrupted politacal machines in SE Michigan for over 50 years. Unfortunately Detroit seems to like its politicians to stay bought when they have been bought.

  • http://www.full-stop.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SHU-2-982x1024.jpg Truth Happens

    More dem foolery.

  • crosspatch

    Is the Michigan Secretary of State going to appeal this ruling? A Republican in Michigan was denied access to the ballot for exactly the same reason. This is yet another case of the Democratic Party being corrupt to the core. Election rules only apply to Republicans. This should be grounds for impeachment of that federal judge.

    • terjeanderson

      This federal judge was following the precedent set by the United State Supreme Court in 1999.

      In that case (Buckley v. American Constitutional Law, brought by a bunch of conservative activists), the Supreme Court unequivocally ruled that it was unconstitutional to require petition gatherers to be registered voters. Michigan’s law was in clear violation of that ruling – the judge’s ruling was correct.

      As for your claims about this being the same as McCotter – it wasn’t at all. McCotter wasn’t kicked off the ballot because his petition gatherers weren’t registered voters. McCotter was kicked off because he did not have enough valid signatures – his petitions were full of forgeries and photocopies. (Had it been due to the same reasons as Conyers, McCotter could have sued under the same law and would have won. But the two cases are completely different).

      Please check your facts before calling for impeachment of a federal judge on

      • crosspatch

        Well why didn’t the same precedent apply to the Republican?

        • terjeanderson

          Did you read my third paragraph?

          Yes, the same precedent would have applied to McCotter – if McCotter’s problem was that his petition gatherers were not registered voters.

          But that wasn’t McCotter’s problem.

          His problem was that his campaign staff didn’t even bother gathering signatures – they simply forged signatures on the petitions, and submitted photocopies of petitions from previous elections.

          Conyers’ case legally fell under the Supreme Court precedent – his problem was that two of his signature gatherers weren’t registered voters. McCotter’s problem was systematic fraud in the signatures he submitted.

          I’d hate to let the facts get in the way of your partisan jihad.

          • http://www.dailykos.com/user/shpilk shpilk

            The Taliban never let logic get in the way of their extremism.

        • Originalist

          Federal judges only follow precedent when it supports the decision they chose to make. Obviously judged are not legally bound to follow the Constitution or precedent as there is absolutely no reprisal or costs to them when they don’t. Judges recently ruled that states and judges of states can impair any contract even though the Constitution and precedent says they are prohibited from doing so. In fact, precedent states the act is void, yet the federal courts refused to declare the impairment void even though the judges were forced to admit they had impaired the contract by their own choice!

        • skacahtoa

          Maybe this story will help.

          Billy has two apples. One apple has a worm in it. The second apple is poisonous. Both are thrown away.

          However, Billy finds out that his father once had an apple with a worm in it. His father just pulled the worm out and ate the apple. So billy did that, but left the poison apple in the trash because his father never ate a poisonous apple.

          Billy is both the judge in the Conyers case and the judge in the McCotter case.
          The worm apple is Conyers.
          The poison apple is McCotter.
          Billy’s father is the legal system’s historical rulings.

          Got it?

  • octagon999

    Laws are for little people. Now get back to work (unless you’re a reliable Dem voter) and pay your damn taxes and STFU.

  • crosspatch

    Thad McCotter had to play by these rules, and now a judge appointed by Obama plays party politics? This is disgusting.

    • GeorgiaYankee

      Based on the thread here, Mr McCotter apparently didn’t have enough valid signatures.

      • crosspatch

        Which was the exact same reason why Conyers was denied.

        • terjeanderson

          Do you think that repeating the same lie over and over again somehow makes it true?

          McCotter and Conyers were kicked off the ballot for different reasons.

          In McCotter’s case, it was because his staff submitted nomination petitions full of forgeries and duplications – not actual signatures. This ultimately led to 4 of those staff members facing criminal charges (and McCotter suing them).

          Conyers was initially kicked off the ballot only because 2 of the people who had collected his signatures were no registered voters. But the Supreme Court had previously ruled that it is unconstitutional to require petition circulators to be registered to vote. Because of that ruling, those signatures were valid – and Conyers had more than enough valid signatures.

  • http://facebook.com/pkeyrich Philip K. Eyrich

    This is bad news for all elections everywhere. If you can get onto the ballot without 100% valid signatures what’s the point. Also is it that difficult to find register voters to do the petitioning? What’s happening to the rule of law? If anyone should know the rules that should be a 25 term politician!

    • terjeanderson

      The “rule of law” you refer to is a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that said it is unconstitutional to require a signature gatherer to be a registered voter. (The case, by the way, was brought by a conservative advocacy group.)

      The Michigan rule was in clear violation of an explicit Supreme Court ruling on the question. It was unconstitutional.

      The judge in this case made the proper ruling – relying on a Supreme Court ruling made under that crazy leftist Chief Justice WIlliam Rehnquist.

      “What’s happening to the rule of law?” It is being carried out appropriately by a federal judge who followed Supreme Court precedent.

    • GeorgiaYankee

      No, you’re wrong on two counts. This wasn’t an issue of the signatures being invalid, it was a matter of the people circulating the petitions not meeting the requirements of Michigan law – which was the same as another law that’s already been struck down as unconstitutional. You cannot require those people circulating the petitions be be registered voters.

      Second, you’re wrong because it’s unrealistic to expect that 100% of the signatures a candidate turns in are going to be valid. Sometimes voters live in a different district, sometimes people think they’re slick and sign the petition as Bruce Wayne of Gotham City, or Clark Kent of Metropolis. Requiring all nominating signatures to be valid unfairly penalizes the candidate and allows a single person to torpedo a candidacy.

      As to whether or not it’s difficult to find registered voters to do the petitioning, that’s actually beside the point. There’s no valid reason to have such a requirement, according to the US Supreme Court.

  • http://www.detroit1st.com J A

    ANOTHER BAILOUT FOR DETROIT…

    FROM AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST NEWSPAPER ON DETROIT: PLANET OF THE APES:

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/motowns-road-to-ruin/story-e6frezz0-1226426121204

    Now you know WHY Detroit is BANKRUPT-

    • howieinbrissie

      It is bizarre that a popular newspaper would print language like planet of the apes, even if they’re quoting a black. It is Australian, however.

  • Karl Hayman

    Detroit the failed Democratic PLANTATION !

  • darrell_b8

    Once again the Democrats prove that they ‘don’t need no stinkin’ laws’…

    • terjeanderson

      Once again right wingers prove they don’t really care about the Constitution, despite their repeated claims to worship it.

      Conyers was placed back on the ballot because the Michigan law that said only registered voters could gather petition signatures was in direct violation of a 1999 Supreme Court ruling (Buckley vs. American Constitutional Law Foundation) that held such a restriction was an infringement on free speech.

      That case, by the way was filed by a group of right wing activists against a Colorado law that said the same thing Michigan’s did. And 6 of the 7 justices in the majority were appointed by Republicans (including those raving left-wing justices Scalia and Thomas).

      The judge in this case ruled correctly based on an unequivocal Supreme Court precedent. The right wing whining about it has nothing to do with respect for the law, and everything to do with petty partisan hackery and an ignorance of the law and the Constitution.

  • Firey Hooks

    Since liberty enables the freedom to fail, it is rather common that the results from our own use of liberty leave us unsatisfied.

  • YONATAN C

    WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS PREPARED TO DO ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION BILL? DO THEY PLAN TO WASH THEIR HANDS OF THE WHOLE ISSUE? THERE ARE STILL MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILES WITHOUT ANY MEANS TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THEY NEED YOUR HELP PEOPLE. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ALREADY TURNED THEIR BACKS AGAINST THEM, AND HAVE TRIED EVERY DELAYING TACTIC KNOWN TO MAN, SO THE BILL COULD NOT BE PASSED IN TIME. THESE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES, FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS HAVE SUFFERED EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS, BECAUSE OF YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION AND HUMAN DECENCY. THE UKRAINE HAS RECENTLY BEEN GIVEN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FOREIGN AID, WHAT ABOUT THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY? THE PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER THIS ISSUE IN THE COMING ELECTIONS, AND IT WILL BE OUR TUEN TO VOTE, AND TO VOTE MANY OF YOU OUT OF OFFICE.

  • benjar45

    Anyone here who’s interested in playing blackjack? I know a secret that brings 65% success ratio. Interested? Google Blackjack Secret Code to learn more.

  • Boston You

    Since we tend to hear about scientific advances, we tend to remember intellectual freedom while forgetting about the freedom to do things.

  • Alfred Neuman

    John Conyers, an Obama supporter, has enough signatures according to Judge Leitman, and Obama appointee. This is an excellent example of the regime taking care of itself. Pure corruption and Banana Republic politics for all to see.

  • YONATAN C

    THE REPUBLICAN SENATE HAS DENIED MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES, WITHOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, AN EXTENSION THAT WAS PROMISED, AND NEEDED BY THESE POOR FAMILIES. FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS THE REPUBLICANS HAVE HELD THE EXTENSION BILL HOSTAGE IN THE SENATE, FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE. MILLIONS OF FAMILIES HAVE HAD TO FACE EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, PERSONAL BANKRUPTCIES, AND HOMELESSNESS, WHILE THE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE USING THEM AS BARGAINING CHIPS, TO FURTHER THEIR PARTY’S POLITICAL AGENDA. THEY HAVE SHOWN UTTER CONTEMPT FOR THE POOR AND UNRMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED A TOTAL LACK OF COMMON DECENCY AND HUMAN COMPASSION FOR THOSE IN DIRE NEED IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY HAVE DELIBERATELY USED STALLING TACTICS, AND HAVE MADE EVERY ATTEMPT AT DELAYING THE VOTING PROCESS, FOR THE BILL TO EXPIRE, THEREFORE NOT BE PASSED. WHEN BILLIONS OF TAX PAYER’S DOLLARS HAVE ME APPROVED FOR THE UKRAINE, THEY HAVE DECIDED NOT TO HELP OUR OWN PEOPLE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.

  • Gloss Finnish

    As the amount of knowledge grows with civilization’s advance, the smaller the fraction of knowledge that our own mind can absorb and the more relatively ignorant each of us becomes.

  • Plow Comms

    Most of the benefits of modern civilization result from our own ability to make use of more knowledge than we could ever know personally.

  • Mark Uss

    Although liberty’s benefits increase along with our commitment to it, liberty’s importance has little to do with the number of people who actually want to use it.

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