Federal Judge vs Michigan: Rep. Conyers Should Retire
Federal Judge vs Michigan: Rep. Conyers Should Retire
Rep. John Conyers, the Democrat from Michigan, has been representing a large portion of Detroit for 24 terms. His campaign team neglected to follow Michigan election laws. The volunteers weren’t Michigan-registered voters collecting the petition signatures to put Conyers on the ballot. Hundreds of signatures were thrown out as a result of their negligence.
There are some in his district that saw this as a blessing in disguise. An editorial from Nolan Finley of the Detroit News, said:
I’ve seen John Conyers in recent years when he was completely cogent, charming and conversant.
I’ve also seen him when he was addled and agitated, seemingly unaware of purpose and place.
Intermittent mental lapses are not unexpected in someone almost 85 years old. But if that someone is a United States congressman, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the sole representative from one of America’s most troubled cities, they have to be considered a disqualifier for office.
That’s why those now engaged in the desperate drive to either get Conyers’ name on the ballot or mount a write-in campaign should instead see his nominating petition foul-up as a blessing in disguise.
Conyers is no longer fit to serve, and those close to him must know it. I don’t know whether he has dementia, Alzheimer’s, senility or some other form of diminished mental capacity. It’s just clear that he’s not quite right.
Yet those who should be protecting him are instead propping him up, running his office, making the decisions he once made. It’s like the political remake of “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
Judge Matthew Leitman, an appointee of President Obama, sees this quite differently. His ruling isn’t on the constitutionality of the state’s requirement of Michigan voter registration status regarding the people collecting signatures for the ballot. Rather, he feels Rep. Conyers has a good chance to win the case and would suffer harm if he wasn’t allowed to be put on the ballot prior to the case being heard.
The judge found that the state’s registration law was nearly identical to one already ruled illegal by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008 based on a violation of First Amendment rights.
As the Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson “implicitly acknowledged in her ruling issued today, if the signatures excluded pursuant to the Registration Statute may not be excluded from Mr. Conyers’ total—and this Court holds that they may not be—then Mr. Conyers has enough signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot,” the judge wrote, ordering election officials to certify Mr. Conyers on the ballot by the end of the month.
It was unclear Friday whether the judge’s ruling would be appealed.
“We’ve received the judge’s order, but will have to review it with our attorneys before we decide how to proceed,” Gisgie Dávila Gendreau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State, said in an email Friday.
My personal view is the federal courts should stay out of the state’s business. More from the Detroit News:
A few years ago, Conyers came to our offices at The News with a congressional aide to discuss a piece of health care legislation he planned to introduce. When we started asking about the details, Conyers clearly knew nothing about the bill, and joined us in questioning the aide.
It was curious, but cordial. But about a half hour into the session, Conyers stood up and without saying anything put on his coat and hat and walked out the door. We were stunned, but less so than the aide, who had driven with Conyers to the meeting and had to hail a cab to get back.
Stories abound about Conyers’ gaps in lucidity, both in Detroit and in Washington.
John Dingell and Carl Levin, who, like Conyers, are both octogenarian congressmen, recognized it was time to go and announced their retirements this year. Conyers may not be capable of making that decision himself, and apparently has no one in his circle of family and friends willing to take him by the hand.
I asked a high-level Michigan Democrat why someone in the party didn’t intervene. “And send Horace Sheffield to Congress?” was the answer, in reference to Conyers’ primary opponent.
Not liking the alternative is a shabby reason to exploit an old, befuddled man. Conyers is beloved and respected in Detroit as a ferocious fighter for freedom. He was once an impactful lawmaker. But that’s the John Conyers of the history books.
The John Conyers of today isn’t always sure where he is, or why. That’s a sad ending for a legend.
Those who love him should help avoid what will inevitably be a humiliating outcome and encourage him to the honorable retirement he deserves.
It is time for Rep. Conyers to retire. He is a senile old man. The people of Detroit elect a representative to work for them, not a bunch of staffers to make the important decisions and tell him what buttons to push when it comes time to vote. I especially don’t appreciate a federal judge stepping in to do the DNC’s bidding on behalf of Obama just to keep a pliable Democrat’s seat. This is a state issue. There is still time to appeal before June 6th deadline to certify the ballot.
Oh, and on another note:
Election officials discovered bogus signatures on ex-Michigan U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s petition, which led him to withdraw from the 2012 election. He has now sued a former top aide and an intern for deliberately submitting forged nominating petitions.