Huge Federal Court Victory in MI — The MI Recount Goes Forward

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Moments ago, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal District Judge’s order and made clear that the presidential recount in Michigan should continue as planned. The ruling dealt a blow to Trump and Republicans in Michigan, who appealed to the court to try to stop Michigan’s historic recount. 

Matthew Brinckerhoff, a lawyer for the Stein campaign, said the following in response to the ruling:

Today, Trump and his GOP allies in Michigan tried everything in the book to stop the recount, and they failed. This recount is continuing in spite of their efforts to suppress the vote.

“We applaud this decision by the Sixth Circuit, and look forward to continuing to fight for the rights of Michiganders to ensure their votes are recounted in a timely and thorough manner.”

While the Michigan Court of Appeals also ruled this afternoon and directed the Board of State Canvassers to reject Dr. Stein’s recount petition, they did not order the recount to be stopped because, as numerous experts have pointed out, their hands are tied by a U.S. District Court ruling ordering it to commence. Instead, the issue of the recount’s constitutionality will likely return to Judge Goldsmith tomorrow, as the statewide recount in Michigan proceeds as planned. 


On Monday, a federal judge in Michigan granted the Stein campaign’s emergency request to immediately start the statewide recount. Writing in an opinion issued just after midnight on Monday, December 5, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said that: “The fundamental right invoked by plaintiffs – the right to vote, and to have that vote conducted fairly and counted accurately – is the bedrock of our nation.” Leaving little room for doubt, the Judge added: “Such uncertainty shows that there is a credible threat to the voters’ right to have a determination made that Michigan’s vote for president was properly tabulated.”

The majority of experts agree that the ruling from District Judge Goldsmith effectively “ties the hands” of Michigan State Courts to stop the recount, even as the Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday that the recount should be overturned on technical grounds. State courts in Michigan simply cannot order an issue that is inconsistent with an order from federal court, Robert Sedler, a leading constitutional law expert recently told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s all a matter of federal supremacy. It’s pretty basic.” 

For their part, Trump and the Attorney General seemingly understand the federal court’s supremacy, which is why they simultaneously filed an emergency motion in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to “stay” the district’s court order, asking that the recount already underway be stopped. But the recount is moving forward, with Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas working swiftly and in tandem with local officials, pushing for a hand-recount of the 4.9 million ballots, rather than just using machines. Even Republican Governor Rick Snyder has encouraged election officials to conduct the recount “promptly.”

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