Michigan Court of Appeals Dismisses Without Explanation Mackinac Center Lawsuit in Home-Based Day Care Union Case

Center's attorney reviewing legal options, reiterates that governor and Legislature could end this "bizarre and unconstitutional arrangement"

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010
Contact: Patrick J. Wright
Director, Mackinac Center Legal Foundation
Michael D. Jahr
Senior Director of Communications, Mackinac Center

MIDLAND — Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick J. Wright announced today that the Michigan Court of Appeals has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the foundation against the Michigan Department of Human Services on behalf of home-based day care owners Sherry Loar of Petoskey, Michelle Berry of Flint and Paulette Silverson of Brighton. Wright is now reviewing other possible legal options.

The Center's legal foundation seeks to end the DHS' illegal withholding of so-called "union dues" from child care subsidy checks sent to home-based day care providers on behalf of low-income parents who qualify for government assistance. The DHS maintains that Loar, Berry and Silverson, who own home-based day care centers open to the public, are government employees and members of a statewide union.

"The court's decision is unfortunate," said Wright, "since without a vote of the Legislature, the DHS cannot treat our clients as government employees. But what complicates matters is that the court announced its decision in a single sentence and didn't explain its rationale.

"This has some troubling consequences," Wright added. "It means the people of Michigan are unsure about the state of the law and their rights. Can the governor, as she has here, simply write an agreement with a community college and take on legislative powers, like turning private business owners into public employees? If so, what other legislative powers can the governor usurp? Can she and a local government raise state taxes? Does the governor just need to find one willing dance partner to rewrite Michigan law?

"This issue should matter to the Michigan Legislature. Precedents like this tend to be stretched, and they are usually stretched at the expense of the Legislature's powers and the rights of the people. And this case should also matter to Gov. Granholm. She retains the power and the responsibility to end the DHS' role in this bizarre and unconstitutional arrangement. She could right this wrong with a single phone call."