A judge in Michigan has struck down an order by the secretary of state that would have banned openly carried firearms at polling locations.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray did not rule on whether openly carried firearms can be banned at polling locations under the Second Amendment. Rather, he struck down the ban because Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson did not follow the proper procedure to create her rule.
“It is important to recognize that this case is not about whether it is a good idea to openly carry a firearm at a polling place, or whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the secretary of state’s … directive,” Murray said in a written opinion.
“The court’s duty is not to act as an overseer of the Department of State, nor is it to impose its view on the wisdom of openly carrying firearms at polling places or other election locations,” he said. “More importantly, its constitutional role is properly limited to only declaring what the law is, not what it should be.”
Murry said that Benson’s ban should have been promulgated under the Administrative Procedures Act, allowing for public input and legislative scrutiny, according to the Detroit Free Press.
He pointed that Benson “could do absolutely anything regarding elections, and not have to comply with the APA (Administrative Procedures Act)” if her rule was allowed to stand.
The decision comes as the Detroit Branch of the NAACP announced its intention to watch polling places and report instances of “intimidation.”
“They are on the case. They are aware of this, too,” branch President the Rev. Wendell Anthony told reporters, referring to the possibility of people carrying guns at polling sites.
“This is not a Second Amendment issue,” Anthony said. “This is a right to vote issue. We want people to have access to the voting booth unmolested, uncontested and unintimidated.”
“Why would you be standing out there with an AR-15 or AK-47?” Anthony asked. “What’s the purpose of that? Nothing more than intimidation and to try to discourage people from voting.”
Benson also argued that the recently foiled plot by right-wing militias to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has made voters afraid to go to the polls.
Now, “there are voters who are afraid,” she said. “There are election workers who are afraid.”
The Michigan legislature made the news this year when a group of openly armed protestors descended on the state capitol to protest the governor’s COVID-19 lockdown orders. No one was injured and no arrests were made.