by Bruce Walker
Governor Gretchen Whitmer had a mixed result in separate courts on two key issues the Democrat is campaigning on for re-election in 2022: advancing the end of fossil fuel production and maintaining access to abortion without limit in the state of Michigan.
Line 5 ruling deals setback
The second attempt of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel to move their case against Enbridge’s Line 5 from a federal court to state court fell short on Thursday.
The Whitmer administration filed a remand motion in Michigan v. Enbridge to have the case heard in front of a state judge. But U.S. District Judge Janet Neff in the Western District determined “the federal issues at stake should be heard in a federal forum.”
Neff also wrote, “Considering the motion in the proper context and totality, the Court again points to the important federal interests at stake in having this dispute heard in federal court” and prevents Whitmer and Nessel from “attempt[ing] to gain an unfair advantage through the improper use of judicial machinery.”
The Whitmer administration has attempted to shut down the dual pipeline in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, alleging the nearly 70-year-old pipeline presents an environmental hazard to the Great Lakes. The Canadian company Enbridge owns and operates Line 5, and is seeking to remove the pipeline from the lakebed to a $500 million tunnel it seeks to build at its own expense 100 feet beneath the bedrock.
“Today’s decision, denying the State’s motion to remand the Michigan Attorney General’s lawsuit back to Michigan state court, is consistent with the Court’s November 2021 ruling that the State’s prior suit against Line 5 belonged in federal court,” Enbridge said in a statement.
“This properly keeps the Michigan Attorney General’s lawsuit in federal court and underscores that the State’s attempts shut down this critical energy infrastructure raises important federal questions of interstate commerce, exclusive federal jurisdiction over pipeline safety and the serious ramifications for energy security and foreign affairs if the State and the U.S. government were to defy an international treaty with Canada that has been in place since 1977,” the company statement said.
Judge’s order restrains county prosecutors from enforcing abortion ban
On Friday, Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham ruled in favor of Whitmer’s attempt to prevent county prosecutors from enforcing the state’s 1931 abortion ban, which was triggered when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its previous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision earlier this summer.
The injunction will likely stay in place until either a ruling from the state Supreme Court overturns it, or a November ballot initiative to ban abortions in the state is approved by voters.
“The lack of legal clarity about abortion in Michigan has already caused far too much confusion for women who deserve certainty about their health care, and hardworking medical providers who should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being thrown behind bars,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Once, over the course of a single day, abortion was legal in the morning, illegal around lunch time, and legal in the evening. We cannot have this kind of whiplash about something as fundamental as a woman’s right to control her own body. Michigan women are understandably scared and angry, and they deserve better than being treated as second class citizens. ”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Karen Neoh. CC BY 2.0.