Studies

The Michigan Union Accountability Act

The Michigan Union Accountability Act:

A Step Toward Accountability and Democracy in Labor Organizations

Unions in Michigan represent over 900,000 workers and take in more than $250 million in membership dues annually. But in spite of their expansive wealth and political power, requirements that unions disclose their financial dealings are minimal. Reform of the federal reporting system, which governs private-sector unions, is needed but unlikely in the current political climate. Michigan can take the lead by passing its own Union Accountability Act, requiring annual financial disclosure reports and independent audits of public-sector union affiliates active in the Great Lakes State. … more
Forfeiture Laws cover

Reforming Property Forfeiture Laws to Protect Citizens’ Rights

The Framers of the United States Constitution understood that freedom depends upon the vigorous protection of private property rights and that this protection was therefore the most sacred obligation of government. However, despite Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, recent years have witnessed a massive expansion of a legal practice known as "asset forfeiture," which allows government to violate the very property rights it is charged with protecting. Hundreds of asset forfeiture laws-many of them intended to stop illegal drug trafficking-give state and federal law enforcement agents the power to seize property even without proof of the owners' guilt in a criminal trial because, in many cases, the government considers the property itself to be the criminal. This study recommends nine reforms that will help guarantee that Michigan citizens enjoy the benefits of private property rights, limited government, and individual liberty, and remain protected from unjustified and arbitrary seizure of their personal possessions. … more

Reforming the Law of Takings in Michigan

If the state of Michigan takes from a land owner some, but not all, of the use or value of his land, the owner is not entitled to any compensation. This forces a few land owners to bear the entire cost of these takings that are intended to benefit the public as a whole. Many states have initiated reforms that would permit land owners to be more fairly compensated. This study outlines the practice of takings jurisprudence in Michigan, reviews the legislative responses in Michigan and other states, and makes specific recommendations for reform in Michigan. 40 pages. … more

The Limits of Compulsory Professionalism: Does a Unified Bar Make Sense for Michigan?

No profession other than the practice of law, in Michigan or any other state, requires membership in a professional organization to maintain a license. This practice, known as the unified bar, has been the subject of litigation in a number of states. Practicing attorney and Law Professor Bradley A. Smith and attorney Alan Falk note that nineteen states have voluntary bar associations, and compare their operation to the "unified" (involuntary) associations. They find that compulsory bar membership provides no greater benefits than those provided by voluntary bar associations. 26 pages. … more

Discrimination at Private Clubs in Michigan: Freedom of Association After Public Act 70

In recent years, a cherished American right, freedom of association, has come into conflict with laws designed to prevent discrimination by private organizations. Michigan's Public Act 70 of 1992 is one such law. Examining P.A. 70, as well as Michigan's famed Elliot-Larsen law, University of Detroit Law Professor Stephen J. Safranek finds that the act was unnecessary, misdirected, and economically harmful. Individual consumers of club services are the real losers. P.A. 70 is government intervention without regard to the right of private clubs to engage in freedom of association. 16 pages. … more

Employment-at-Will in Michigan: A Case for Retaining the Doctrine

The last two decades have witnessed an unprecedented assault on one of the last frontiers of free contract: the employment relationship. The ability of individuals to choose freely for whom they will work and who will work for them is being undermined by activist jurists and legislators and cheered on by statist academics. Skoppek traces this development in Michigan law, explains the breadth of harm it has caused, and argues strongly for change. 26 pages. … more

Litigation and the Market: Restoring the Balance Between Individual and Employer Rights

Litigation has become an expensive and prominent component of our economy. There are too many excessive damage awards and too few controls on the length and expense of court proceedings. The author examines product liability and employment contract law and recommends ten specific reforms. 5 pages. … more

Jail Overcrowding in Michigan: A Public Problem With a Private Solution?

Strapped for cash and experiencing soaring costs to maintain over crowded jails, Michigan counties are overdue for privatization. Van Eaton cites substantial cost savings in more than a dozen other states where jail operation and management has been privatized. Michigan state government should allow our 83 counties the freedom to employ this promising option. 26 pages. … more

Tort Law and the Products Liability Insurance Crisis

This report examines the theories behind the products liability insurance crisis, including the idea that the crisis is contrived by the insurance industry. Smith argues that the real source of the problem is judicial changes in tort law that undermine the predictability of risk and the independence insurance markets need to adequately measure risk. He recommends steps that governments should take to solve the crisis and bring down consumer and industry costs. 55 pages. … more

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