BTL Staff Report
The Michigan Attorney General’s office cannot skip the Court of Appeals level in the case over whether the Civil Service Commission overstepped its bounds by approving domestic partner benefits for its employees, the Supreme Court ruled late Friday.
On Oct. 6, 2011 Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield ruled the CSC had the authority to sign agreements with employee unions that allowed live-in partners of state employees to receive state benefits despite Proposal 2 of 2004, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Manderfield agreed with the CSC that it had the power to approve them as part of an agreement between the state employer and the state employee labor unions.
Attorney General Bill Schuette is fighting the Manderfield decision and had hoped to skip straight to the Supreme Court level. He was unsuccessful.
“We believe that the Michigan Civil Service Commission clearly has constitutional authority under Michigan’s constitution to permit certain state employees to select other eligible adults to receive health insurance coverage and that the Attorney General’s lawsuit is without merit,” said Jay Kaplan, LGBT legal project staff attorney at the ACLU. “What the Supreme Court said in its decision is that if the Attorney General is unhappy with Judge Manderfield’s opinion, he has proper procedural channels, such as appealing to the Michigan Court of Appeals, rather than going directly to the Michigan Supreme Court.”
The case was sent back down to the Appellate Court, leaving Manderfield’s interpretation in effect and allowing the benefits to continue for now.