Phillips, et al v. Snyder, et al,

At a Glance

Current Status 

The claim that Public Act 436 was implemented in a racially discriminatory manner in violation of the Equal Protection Clause was allowed to move forward. All other claims were dismisseed in U.S. District Court. Plantiffs moved that the court reconsider its dismissal of the other claims. On December 15, 2014, the District Court denied that motion. Plantiffs are now planning to appeal the District Court's dismissal of their claims to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Date Filed: 

March 27, 2013

Co-Counsel 

The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice and several Michigan-based civil rights lawyers.

Case Description 

Phillips v. Snyder is a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of replacing democratically elected mayors and city and town councils in predominantly black and brown communities of Michigan with unelected, state-appointed “Emergency Managers”. In 2012 the Michigan State Legislature passed Public Act 436, essentially granting state-appointed “Emergency Managers” the power to legislate for and govern entire municipalities deemed to be in “financial distress”. The Governor’s implementation of Public Act 436 shows pronouced racial bias with 50% of all Black Michigan residents currently being governed by Emergency Managers and, in essence, being denied their fundamental right to vote and to the governance of an elected body. Meanwhile, only 2% of Michigan's white residents are subject to the unchecked authority of Emergency Managers. As an organization steeped in the Civil Rights movement, Phillip v. Synder represents CCR’s deep commitment to racial equality and the protection of basic civil and constitutional rights.  

This case is a direct follow up to an earlier CCR case, Brown v. Snyder, which was rendered moot when the people of Michigan repealed Public Act 4 – the 2011 law under which the Michigan Emergency Managers were established – in a statewide voter referendum. This was a great victory for the people of Michigan, and sent a clear message to the Governor and state officials that Michigan residents were not satisfied with this unconstitutional practice that would deny so many a political voice in their local government – a message that was, nonetheless, ignored with the passing of Public Act 436 a month later.

Phillips v. Snyder was filed  in partnership with The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice and several Michigan-based civil rights lawyers on behalf of a broad coalition of plaintiffs. 

Case Timeline

December 15, 2014

Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration

December 15, 2014

Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration

December 1, 2014

Plaintiffs moved the District Court to reconsider its dismissal of all but one of plaintiffs’ claims, arguing that the court had overlooked crucial facts and law in its decision.

December 1, 2014

Plaintiffs moved the District Court to reconsider its dismissal of all but one of plaintiffs’ claims, arguing that the court had overlooked crucial facts and law in its decision.

November 19, 2014

District Court dismissed all but one of Plaintiffs' claims, including claims brought under the Voting Rights Act, the Due Process Clause, and the Thirteenth Amendment. However, he denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims that the State's implementation  of PA 436 racially discriminates and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause. 

November 19, 2014

District Court dismissed all but one of Plaintiffs' claims, including claims brought under the Voting Rights Act, the Due Process Clause, and the Thirteenth Amendment. However, he denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims that the State's implementation  of PA 436 racially discriminates and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause. 

April 30, 2014

Oral argument on Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon’s motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in Phillips v. Snyder was held in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.

April 30, 2014

Oral argument on Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon’s motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in Phillips v. Snyder was held in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.

April 4, 2014

District Court stays Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon’s appeal of the Bankruptcy Court’s November 6, 2013 stay-lifting order pending the outcome of the appeal of the entire Detroit bankruptcy proceeding currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

April 4, 2014

District Court stays Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon’s appeal of the Bankruptcy Court’s November 6, 2013 stay-lifting order pending the outcome of the appeal of the entire Detroit bankruptcy proceeding currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

March 5, 2014

Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon move to dismiss plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint in Phillips v. Snyder.

March 5, 2014

Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon move to dismiss plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint in Phillips v. Snyder.

February 12, 2014

Amended Complaint filed in Phillips v. Snyder.

February 12, 2014

Amended Complaint filed in Phillips v. Snyder.

February 11, 2014

Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon file a notice of appeal in the District Court of the Bankruptcy Court’s November 6, 2013 order lifting the stay on the Phillips case. However, this appeal is before a different district judge than the judge who is presiding over the Phillips case itself.

February 11, 2014

Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon file a notice of appeal in the District Court of the Bankruptcy Court’s November 6, 2013 order lifting the stay on the Phillips case. However, this appeal is before a different district judge than the judge who is presiding over the Phillips case itself.

February 6, 2014

The District Court orders that Phillips v. Snyder be officially re-opened.

February 6, 2014

The District Court orders that Phillips v. Snyder be officially re-opened.

November 6, 2013

The Bankruptcy Court issues an order relieving Phillips v. Snyder from the Bankruptcy Court’s July 25, 2013 stay order on the condition that the Phillips plaintiffs amend their complaint to remove all claims arising out of the operation of Public Act 436 in the City of Detroit.

November 6, 2013

The Bankruptcy Court issues an order relieving Phillips v. Snyder from the Bankruptcy Court’s July 25, 2013 stay order on the condition that the Phillips plaintiffs amend their complaint to remove all claims arising out of the operation of Public Act 436 in the City of Detroit.

August 22, 2013

The District Court in Phillips v. Snyder issues an order staying the case pending the outcome of the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding.

August 22, 2013

The District Court in Phillips v. Snyder issues an order staying the case pending the outcome of the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding.

July 25, 2013

The Bankruptcy Court in the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, orders that all pre-bankruptcy federal civil actions filed against Michigan state officials in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan be stayed pending the outcome of the Detroit bankruptcy proceeding.

July 25, 2013

The Bankruptcy Court in the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, orders that all pre-bankruptcy federal civil actions filed against Michigan state officials in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan be stayed pending the outcome of the Detroit bankruptcy proceeding.

July 18, 2013

City of Detroit files for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection

July 18, 2013

City of Detroit files for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection

At the direction of the Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr, Detroit made the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
March 28, 2013

Public Act 436 takes effect

March 28, 2013

Public Act 436 takes effect

March 27, 2013

 Original complaint filed in Phillips v. Snyder in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

March 27, 2013

 Original complaint filed in Phillips v. Snyder in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

December 26, 2012

Michigan Governor Richard Snyder signs Public Act 436 into law

December 26, 2012

Michigan Governor Richard Snyder signs Public Act 436 into law

December 13, 2012

Lame-duck session of Michigan State Legislature passes Public Act 436.

December 13, 2012

Lame-duck session of Michigan State Legislature passes Public Act 436.

November 6, 2012
Michigan Voters Vote to Repeal Predecesor Emergency Manager Law
November 6, 2012
Michigan Voters Vote to Repeal Predecesor Emergency Manager Law