Michigan Judge Rules Jan. 15 Primary Law Unconstitutional

The law which pushed Michigan's presidential primary up to Jan. 15 was ruled unconstitutional by a court Wednesday, at least temporarily jeopardizing the state's plan to leap to the front of the 2008 nomination contests.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette ruled that part of the law passed by the state Legislature setting up the primary election is unconstitutional because it prevents public access to some information related to voting records in the primary.

The ruling could be appealed. The Legislature also could go back and change the law in time for the primary to be held.

Political consultant Mark Grebner and several others sought the judge's ruling to keep Michigan's presidential primary from going forward until issues are resolved over who will have access to information showing which voters asked for Republican ballots and which took Democratic ones.

No public record would be kept, but the state political parties would be given that information, which Grebner wants.

Grebner said his intent is not to stop the primary — all he wants is access to the information that was guarded from public disclosure in the legislation that set up the election.

"If someone can figure out a way to save it, that's fine with us," Grebner said.

Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday with spokesmen for the Michigan Democratic Party and the Michigan Republican Party.

Michigan Democratic and Republican party leaders are already under pressure from their national party leaders to rollback the early date.

Michigan Democrats who support the Jan. 15 presidential primary date said Tuesday they've got the votes on the party's executive committee to defeat any efforts to switch the date or hold a caucus instead.

The test could come Wednesday night, when the committee has scheduled a meeting at party headquarters in Lansing, Mich., to vote on whether national convention delegates should be awarded based on the primary or through some other method.