Inside and outside of Oakland

Supreme Court rejects party status for The Tea Party group

  The group calling itself "The Tea Party" will not appear as a political party on the Nov. 2 ballot.

  The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday denied the group's application to appeal an earlier decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals and action by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.
  The high court said in its order that it "is without a mechanism to enforce any order requiring the board to do its job" because the state canvassing board "rejected" party status on a 2-2 vote.
  "Thus this court has no decision from the board to review and the board failed to carry out its duty to plaintiff," the court order reads.
  Oakland County Republicans and members of the tea party movement have labeled The Tea Party group a fake and accused it of being used by Democrats to siphon votes from Republicans in the November election.
  "The fake tea party on the ballot was clearly intended to deceive voters," said Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson. "It's nice to see the integrity of elections being upheld.
  "I'm very pleased to see that it was voted decisively and decidedly in favor of clean elections," said   Johnson, the Republican candidate for secretary of state.
  Johnson has asked for investigations into election fraud over some of The Tea Party group's candidate filings, particularly those in Oakland County.
  She said many were notarized by county Democratic Party employee Jason Bauer and that one candidate had written to say he had not filed to run for office and was living out of state.
  Bauer later resigned from the Oakland County Democratic Party as did county party Chairman Mike McGuinness.
  Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Democratic Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, county Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Johnson, have also asked for a one-person grand jury to investigate the filings.
  That request is still pending before the Oakland County Circuit Court.
  Patterson had speculated earlier Friday that the political makeup of the high court — four Democrats and three Republicans — might lead to a decision to put The Tea Party group on the November ballot.
  "It restores my faith in the judicial system," Patterson said of the court's decision. "Clearly this was a fraud orchestrated by some who would abuse the political process and they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court slapped them down.
  "I'm proud of our court system, they stood for principle today and shame on these tea party frauds," he said.
  Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly and Justice Diane Hathaway, both nominated by Democrats, voted to grant “The Tea Party” request to appeal.
  The court's order was on a 5-2 vote with the newest justice, Alton Davis, voting with the majority against hearing The Tea Party group's appeal. Davis and Democrat Michael F. Cavanagh voted with the Republican justices. Davis was appointed to the high court only last week by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the same day Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned.
  "They could have gone any which way for any number of reasons," Patterson said. "Davis, the new appointee, voted with the Republicans, much to his credit."
  The decision also clears the way for state and county elections offices to begin printing ballots for the November election to distribute to absentee voters and people overseas in the military.
  Contact staff writer Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, or follow him on Twitter @crummc.

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