The three declared candidates for the GOP nomination to face incumbent Attorney General Dana Nessel in November met for a forum in Alpena Friday. One of the last questions, from an audience member, was about Griswold v. Connecticut, a landmark 1964 Supreme Court case regarding the rights of adults to access birth control without state interference.
Amazingly, none of the three were familiar with the case, although it's considered a foundational ruling in the progress toward Roe v. Wade; the court ruled that "marital privacy" should supercede state restrictions on birth control, which had been in place in Connecticut since 1879.
Former House Speaker Tom Leonard, who lost to Nessel in 2018 and wants a rematch, asked for a clarification and responded that the case was "wrongly decided" because it "trampled on states' rights."
Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, admitted he was unfamiliar with the case and did a quick phone search while Leonard was answering, and agreed: He, too, held states' rights above "federal judicial activism," even if it was in the service of the right to fill a prescription for birth-control pills.
And Matt DePerno, Kalamazoo attorney, echoed the other two, saying the "privacy issue is unworkable." But states' rights to keep condoms out of adults' hands? Sacrosanct.
It's likely all three men, when questioned again about it, will say of course they don't want to ban birth control, just federal judges who overrule states' holy right to run their own affairs as they see fit. (You might recall how the southern states all willingly and peacefully came to a more enlightened view of human slavery in 1865.)
But they've unquestionably given Nessel a club to beat them with, and it's up to voters to decide whether they trust any of these men with their own rights, which may well be in conflict with the state of Michigan's to meddle in personal health-care decisions long considered settled.
Nessel, for her part, wasted no time in getting in front of this one:
All 3 Republicans running for Michigan Attorney General just stated that they oppose the ruling in Griswold v Connecticut which outlawed prosecuting married couples for using contraception.— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) February 19, 2022
You read that right.
The forum was covered by Michigan Advance.