Court Rules Jan. 15 Michigan Presidential Primary Unconstitutional

A state appeals court on Friday dealt a blow to Michigan political leaders' hopes of holding a presidential primary on Jan. 15.

In a 2-1 ruling, Judges Patrick Meter and Donald Owens objected that a law recently passed by the Legislature setting up the primary would let the state political parties keep track of voters' names and whether they took Democratic or GOP primary ballots but give no public access to that information.

Michigan had at one time tentatively scheduled caucuses for Feb. 9, but state officials and Gov. Jennifer Granholm have tried to push up the date to Jan. 15.

The weeks-long logjam involving the courts has delayed scheduling of the nation's first primary. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner says he won't set the date of his state's primary until it's clear what's going to happen with Michigan. New Hampshire law says it must go first in the nation.

A spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said no decision had been reached on whether to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

"We're disappointed with the court's decision," Matt Frendewey said.

Michigan lawmakers could change the law so it would pass legal muster, but so far they have failed to do so and they don't have much time left. Clerks need to start sending absentee ballots to overseas Michigan voters by Dec. 1, so a new primary election law would have to be approved in the next two weeks.