Michigan's secretary of State said it's too early to say whether she would appeal a judge's ruling Friday that placed Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) back on the Democratic primary ballot.
A decision by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Leitman overturned rulings by the Michigan Secretary Ruth Johnson and the Wayne County Election Commission that prevented Conyers from getting on the August ballot because of a lack of valid petition signatures.
The judge noted that he hurried to file the injunction Friday to give all parties time to appeal, if necessary, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals before the June 6 deadline to certify the ballot.
"We’ve received the judge’s order, but will have to review it with our attorneys before we decide how to proceed. What I can tell you is that the secretary is sworn to uphold the law, and that’s what she has done in this case and will continue to do.”
Conyers primary opponent Rev. Horace Sheffield III, who first challenged the petition signatures, said attorneys were reviewing the order.
“What we’re going to do is let the attorneys look at it ..., but it doesn’t stop anything as far as our approach to the campaign. We’re moving forward," campaign manager Rick Jones told the Detroit News.
More than 600 petition signatures for Conyers had been deemed invalid by the county clerk, with whom the secretary of State agreed, because they were gathered by people who were not registered in Michigan, required by state law.
That left Conyers shy of the 1,000 petition signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
But the judge ruled the law was likely unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, asserting it was not narrowly tailored. The previously invalidated signatures would send Conyers's total above 1,000.
"Plaintiffs here have shown a substantial likelihood of success," he wrote, adding, "The State’s interest in combating election fraud is compelling, but the State may protect that interest through a less restrictive means."
Conyers's campaign chair Bert Johnson, a Michigan state senator, told The Hill on Friday, "We hope this is the end of it because it is the right and fair decision," but noted others have the right to appeal.