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Emergency Manager Law Challenge Moving Forward

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Judge allows legal challenge to emergency manager law to move ahead

A federal judge in Detroit has refused to toss out a legal challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law. Judge Joseph Caram Steeh will allow a trial on the claim the law violates equal protection rights in the US Constitution.

The judge dismissed eight other counts in the lawsuit -- which was filed against Governor Rick Snyder by local officials from cities and school districts that were taken over by the state. But he said, the law has placed cities and school districts in a unique situation compared to other local governments - including financially stressed ones - across Michigan and the country.

"Plaintiffs have already suffered, and continue to suffer, the alleged constitutional deprivations, while the residents of Michigan communities without an EM have suffered no such harms," wrote Steeh in the court order.

The suit say the emergency manager law effectively targets communities that are predominantly African American and have higher poverty rates, and it diminishes voting rights.

The decision to allow a trial will almost certainly have little or no effect on the nearly concluded Detroit bankruptcy. But there are 11 other cities and five school districts in Michigan that are still in some stage of state oversight under the emergency manager law.

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.