Sen. Mike Shirkey, of the Michigan 16th Senate District introduced the fourth bill of this senate term. It is called the “Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (MRFRA) but it is totally devoid of substance. For zealots who want this state to become Christian again, Sen. Shirkey’s bill is a huge disappointment. It is a far cry from the bills described in “Michigan Senate’s Religious Supremacy Bill” and “Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act.”
All SB-04 says is that the government has to follow the law as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill has the same effect as one requiring the government to obey the law of gravity, or Newton’s laws of motion. The Michigan Senate might pass a bill repealing Newton’s laws, but even if it got by the house and were signed by the governor, physical objects would still behave as if Newton’s laws were still in effect. However, I am sure that Sen. Shirkey would echo U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s declaration, “I’m not a scientist.” He might think that Newton’s laws need to be codified in Michigan law.
The new MRFRA bill includes a provision for recovery of attorney’s fees for a plaintiff who successfully sues the government for interference with religious rights. This, too, is superfluous. Federal law already provides for recovery of attorney fees where the government has violated a citizen’s civil rights. To sum up, the bill, which is close to 1,000 words, is an exercise in utter futility, somewhat akin to a law forbidding farmers to milk bulls.
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2015 John B. Payne, Attorney