North America

Michigan Court of Claims Declares “Adopt and Amend” Unconstitutional

By: Mikaylah Heffernan

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Lansing, MICHIGAN – The Michigan Court of Claims has declared that the previously used legislative practice of “adopt and amend” is unconstitutional under Article 2, § 9 of the Michigan Constitution, as it barred the Michigan electorate from proposing, enacting, and rejecting laws through the established initiative process.

Partial aerial view of the Michigan State Capitol Building. Photo Courtesy of Mikaylah Heffernan.

Under the Michigan State Constitution, an issue may become a statewide ballot proposal through several different mechanisms, including through a ballot initiative, as allowed by Article 2, § 9. Michigan Election Law, specifically 1954 PA 116, outlines the requirements and circumstances under which citizens may add statewide proposal to the ballot. The proposal must serve the following reasons; to enact a new law, approve or reject an existing law, or amend the constitution. In order to complete this process, the responsible party must gather signatures from registered electors of no less than eight percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor in the last gubernatorial election.

In 2018, two petitions were circulated, one to set rates for accumulated paid sick time, and the other to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, including tipped employees who currently earn a lower minimum wage. Article 2, § 9 of the constitution allows the legislature to adopt ballot proposals as written by a majority vote, and the Michigan legislature voted to adopt both acts, keeping the proposals off the ballot. Had these proposals passed via a ballot vote, they could only have been amended by a three-fourths majority in the Legislature.

After the statewide election in November of 2018, the legislature substantially amended the legislation, compromising the original purpose. In May of 2021, several interested groups brought a petition directly to the Court of Claims, challenging the constitutionality of the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act on the basis of the ‘adopt and amend’ procedure used by the legislature.

In the July 2022 ruling, the Court found that the enacting and amending of the Acts during the same legislative session violated the purpose of Article 2, § 9, and that under Article 2, § 9, the Legislature has only three options, adopt the initiative as presented, reject the petition, or propose a new alternative law.  In the decision, Judge Shapiro stated the following; “Once the Legislature adopted the Earned Sick Time Act and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Act, it could not amend the laws within the same legislative session. To hold otherwise would effectively thwart the power of the People to initiate laws and then vote on those same laws—a power expressly reserved to the people in the Michigan Constitution.” Also considered and addressed by the Court was the inability of the State to establish why the Legislature substantially amended 2018 PA 337 and 338 other than as a means to deprive the voters of their access to the initiative process.

The ruling is stayed until February 19, 2023, and pending the outcome of appeal, these changes may not go into effect. 


For further information, including further discussion of the actions taken by the legislative body in 2018, please see:

Michigan Supreme Court – In re House of Representatives Request for Advisory Opinion Regarding Constitutionality of 2018 PA 368 – 18 Dec. 2019

Foster Swift – Michigan Court of Claims Declares “Adopt and Amend” Unconstitutional – 5 Aug. 2022

Art. 2 Sec. 9 – Michigan Constitution

1954 PA 116 – Michigan Election Law

Mothering Justice et al. v. Nessel – 19 July 2022

With the Supreme Court Ruling to Overturn Restrictions on Gun Control, the U.S. Sees the Frequency of School Shootings Continue to Rise

By: Jessica Senzer

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Senior Associate Member

UNITED STATES – On Friday, January 6, 2023, a six-year-old boy shot his teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. Police Chief Steve Drew said that the shooting was not an accidental one and that there was an altercation between the teacher and student that led to the shooting. Following the incident, Newport News Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. George Parker decided to keep the school closed on Monday, January 9, and he stated that “we need to educate our children and we need to keep them safe.” Superintendent Parker further expressed, I’m sounding like a broken record today because I continue to reiterate that… we need to keep the guns out of the hands of our young people.”

People Protesting for Gun Control Outside the Supreme Court. Photo Courtesy of Vox.

Dr. George Parker is not the only American to feel as if inadequate actions have been taken to address the rising concerns regarding gun control in America. Nabeela Syed, a newly elected member of the Illinois state legislature, grew up in Generation Z, a generation that “grew up on active shooter drills.” Syed recently stated that “sometimes it’s frustrating, being a younger person and feeling like we’ve been crying out for this and feeling unheard.” Despite Americans’ consistent pleas for action to be taken to stop the increase in gun violence across the country, the Supreme Court of the United States recently took the opposite actions.

On June 23, 2022, in the now-landmark case New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, the Supreme Court found a New York state concealed carry law to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the Second and 14th Amendments. The concealed carry law required a prospective gun owner to prove that “proper cause” existed before they could legally carry a concealed pistol or revolver in public. The Court held that this “proper cause” requirement prevented law-abiding citizens with self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

In the opinion, Justice Thomas references two major gun rights cases, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Both of these historic gun rights cases recognize the right to keep and bear arms inside the home for purposes of self-defense. The Bruen opinion, however, expanded the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, holding that an individual also has the right to carry a gun for self-defense outside of the home. Amidst concerning increases in gun violence nationwide and sweeping pleas for more gun control, the Supreme Court acted contrary to the cries of the American people, and the repercussions are palpable.

For further information, please see:

CNN – 6-year-old in custody after shooting teacher in Virginia, police chief says – Jan. 7, 2023

NYSBA – The Supreme Court’s Bruen Decision and Its Impact: What Comes Next? – Aug. 9, 2022

U.S. News – Growing Into Leadership After Growing Up With Shootings – Nov. 28, 2022

Migrant Children’s right to an education threatened by U.S. Governor

By: Christina Rosa Ralph

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

TEXAS, United States – The Supreme Court said in Plyler v Doe, To control the conduct of adults by acting against their children…does not comport with the fundamental concepts of justice.”  Plyler v Doe, 457 US 202, 220 (1982).  Yet, recently, U.S. politicians have begun to more openly and strenuously vilify asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants by labeling them as an “invasion” and blaming them for any number of social ills.  The language seems calculated to agitate people for political reasons and to make them feel anger and hate toward immigrants.  While xenophobic rhetoric from politicians is not new, it is particularly troubling that at least one, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, has aimed his anti-immigration rhetoric toward innocent migrant children by attacking their right to an education.

Children holding a sign affirming their right to education. Photo Courtesy of

Gov. Abbot recently announced plans to challenge Plyler, the 1982 landmark Supreme Court decision that held that all children, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to equal protection of the law under the 14th Amendment. Plyler struck down a Texas law that allowed undocumented children to be charged for, or excluded from, Texas’s public education system.  Plyler also reaffirmed that the 14th Amendment provisions are “universal in their application…without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality.” 457 U.S. at 212. Yet, Abbott seems determined to label undocumented children a “subclass” not worthy of equal protection under the law, not only under Texas law, but in the hearts and minds of his supporters and others who see no injustice in vilifying children who are simply seeking to get an education.

Abbott’s comments make it clear that, in his opinion, Texas is only educating migrant children because the Federal government is forcing it to; and implying that undocumented children are to blame for deficiencies in education.  But these assertions are challenged, by many Texas educators, including Dallas Superintendent, Michael Hinojosa, who labeled Abbott’s comments a “manufactured crisis in the name of politics.” However, while Abbotts’s comments have been dismissed as “woefully ill-informed” and have been labeled a political “dog whistle” that does not make them any less dangerous to the children he is openly attacking.  And given that Abbott does not bother to distinguish between undocumented children, and children who are US citizens with undocumented parents, the dangers his broad vilification creates threatens all immigrant children and their families. 

In the 40 years since Plyler, states have used direct and indirect ways of limiting immigrant children’s access to education by adding to the already formattable obstacles to education faced by migrant children across the U.S.  Undocumented children, and children who are U.S. citizens of undocumented parents, face constant uncertainty and fear; language, cultural and social barriers; and often poverty and isolation. While the perception of immigrants, flamed by incendiary comments by public officials, is “intrinsically tied to negative perceptions” about immigrants, and a constant reminder to these children that many believe they are not welcome and do not belong.

The Supreme Court called education the “primary vehicle for transmitting ‘the values on which our society rests.’”  In Texas, it appears the governor is willing to use that vehicle to pass on values that teach some children they are more deserving of an education than their peers who are immigrants or 1st generation Americans while teaching others that they are, and will remain, a subclass of persons not worthy of an education or of equal protection under the law.


For further information, please see:

Dallas Morning News – Texas Educators say Immigrant Children aren’t as Much of a Worry as State Funding – May 9, 2022

Institute for Immigration Research – Plyler v Doe: Implementation, Challenges, and Implications for the Future – Aug. 2022

Latina Republic – Barriers in the United States Education System for Immigrant Children – June 23, 2021

MALDEF – MALDEF Statement on Texas Governor’s Comments on Landmark Educational Ruling – May 5, 2022

NPR – Talk of ‘invasion’ moves from the fringe to the mainstream of GOP immigration message – Aug. 3, 2022

Plyler v Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982)

New York Times – Texas Governor Ready to Challenge Schooling of Migrant Children – May 5, 2022

Canada Terminates Collection and Reporting of COVID-19 Cases in Schools While Texas Governor Bans Mask Mandates in Schools

By: Jessica Senzer

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

NORTH AMERICA — On December 30, 2021, Ontario’s s Ministry of Education announced that it will no longer collect or report data of new COVID-19 infections starting in 2022. Before this change, the Ministry of Education collected COVID-19 data, including weekly case numbers from school boards. Education Minister Stephen Lecce stated that this was done partially because “schools are literally some of the safest places in our community…”

Texas students in school. Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune.

However, this decision was not well-accepted among all Canadians. In fact, in a statement, New Democratic Party Education Critic Marit Stiles said that this action “is going to hurt kids, families, and education workers.” Decisions that reduced COVID-19 protections have been unaccepted in the past, particularly by disabled communities. Canada’s disabled community will likely take issue with the Ministry’s new announcement.

On August 11, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott passed an Executive Order that prohibited school districts and charter schools from enforcing mask mandates-the Texas governor loosened COVID-19 protections in the state. Like in Canada, this decision was met with much citizen dissatisfaction.

Less than a week after the Executive Order was passed, Disability Rights Texas and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of 14 disabled child plaintiffs, claiming, among other things, that the Order puts students with disabilities at great risk by depriving them of in-person education in a safe environment.

Disabled students in Canada will likely have similar concerns. Since the Ministry of Education is no longer collecting or reporting data on COVID-19 infection rates, students, disabled or not, will not know how many students, faculty, and staff, have, have been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19. This change could pose problems for students with various disabilities, including those that lead to a compromised immune system or anxiety.

In the Texas lawsuit, one plaintiff had ADHD, growth hormone deficiency, and asthma. She claimed she was at greater risk of serious illness because she needed to participate in in-person instruction but constantly had to worry about being exposed to COVID-19 at school. Canadian schoolchildren will face similar concerns if they do not know how many students, faculty, and staff have been exposed to, contracted, or have symptoms of COVID-19 due to government non-reporting of this data.

For further information, please see:

Disability Rights Texas- First Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Texas Governor on Mask Mandate Ban Says It Violates ADA, Section 504- 17 Aug. 2021

Global News- Ontario’s education ministry to stop collecting COVID case numbers from schools- 1 Jan. 2022

Toronto News- Ontario to stop collecting COVID-19 numbers from school boards, suspend reporting of cases – 31 Dec. 2021

Facebook and the Perpetuation of Human Trafficking

By: Kendall Hay

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

UNITED STATES — In October 2021, a former Facebook employee provided an internal report to Congress which revealed the company’s awareness of several illegal activities on the site. However, despite their awareness, Facebook made a deliberate decision not to act in an effort to protect their bottom line. These recently published “Facebook papers” reveal that the company was aware of human trafficking on the platform and purposely chose to withhold efforts to combat the problem.

Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Photo courtesy of Time.

The whistleblower revealed widespread trafficking occurring in the Middle East in the sphere of domestic labor. These workers are coerced into earning money for their family either by fraud or deception and then are forced to terms and undignified conditions once there. After being stripped of all forms of communication, they are then faced with domestic and sexual violence and left without the promised earnings.

One of the problems that has led to this issue is the rapid growth the social media site has experienced but has been unable to properly maintain. Being an international platform has also presented challenges to the company, one of which is the difficulty in policing illegal activity on such a widespread scale.

A search on Facebook for maids can render results with a picture and a price accompanying the image, and this even occurs after local governments have scoured the site daily in an attempt to stop such practices.

Although Facebook denies these allegations, it is clear that the advertising benefits they receive have taken precedence over taking measures to ban online solicitation. With over 2 billion users, the company generates extensive profits through advertising. And while they could use some of this advertising space for public service announcements to warn of the potential trap, Facebook has chosen to turn a blind eye. The outcry from victims for these warning messages has escalated in recent months.

In June 2021, The Texas Supreme Court ruled against Facebook in a lawsuit filed by women who were abused and trafficked from the site. The court declared that a Texas statute allows these women to bring a civil cause of action against Facebook for intentionally knowing and benefiting from participation in sex trafficking.

Facebook will soon be facing a class action lawsuit that will be filed at the end of December for misleading shareholders. The lawsuit claims that, among other things, Facebook failed to respond to drug cartels and human traffickers. They are also complaining of attracting pre-teens to the site as well as publicly misleading users and issuing false statements. Because of the drop in Facebook’s share price due to the alleged complaints, plaintiffs are seeking damages for their significant loss.

For further Information please see:

ABA Journal Sex-trafficking victims can sue Facebook for allegedly facilitating their recruitment – 30 June 2021

AP News – Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse – 25 Oct. 2021

AP News – People or Profit? Facebook Papers Show Deep Conflict Within – 25 Oct. 2021

Bloomberg – Facebook must face claims linked to sex trafficking judge says – 25 June 2021

CNN – Facebook has shown it has a human trafficking problem for years – 25 Oct. 2021

Washington Post – What are the Facebook papers – 25 Oct. 2021

Yahoo – Shareholder Class Action Deadline – 2 Dec. 2021