Judge issues temporary freeze on ‘gag order’ election law

Posted at 3:20 PM, Feb 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 15:20:19-05

LANSING, Mich. — A federal judge has placed a temporary freeze on a Michigan law that critics say amounts to a “gag order.”

U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara on Friday issued a preliminary injunction. O’Meara says the law is unconstitutionally vague, and encroaches on free speech rights.

The law stops local officials from distributing information about ballot proposals 60 days before an election.

More than 100 school districts and local governments will have measures on the March 8 primary ballot, which means the 60 day prohibition period that went into effect in January will apply.

O’Meara’s ruling comes about a month after Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law, though Snyder asked the Legislature to clarify what information local officials could communicate in his bill-signing letter.

The law outraged some local officials who filed a lawsuit asking for an injunction.

O’Meara has written in his ruling that the issue is best resolved by the Legislature.

Last week, lawmakers in a House committee approved a new bill clarifying what local officials are allowed to distribute about upcoming ballot proposals, including the ballot language and election date.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.