Major abortion ruling in Michigan • Another delivery driver attack • Health dept closes Lafayette Coney Island

The Michigan Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether two petitions dealing with voting rights and abortion will appear on the November ballot Thursday. 

The state supreme court justices were given a tight deadline to rule on the two pending ballot proposals after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on both of them. The 2-2 tie led to a rejection of both petitions despite them receiving the Michigan Bureau of Election's blessing and securing enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

This coming after a Circuit Court Judge struck down Michigan's 1931-era abortion ban on Wednesday, arguing enforcing the rule was unconstitutional. Currently no law governing the practice is on the books in Michigan - making the high court's decision even more significant.

"If the court does nothing, this proposal doesn't appear on the ballot," said Attorney General Dana Nessel during a virtual press conference Wednesday morning.

Debate around the state's most pressing issues expected to drive turnout to the polls in November was flipped on its head in June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, which lifted federal protections on the practice. 

Go Deeper: Did missing spaces in Michigan abortion proposal derail effort to put issue on ballot?

Since then, the status of getting an abortion in Michigan has gone through a series of whip lashing court decisions.

However, the flip-flopping can't last forever. The high court needs to decide today since ballot language is required by law to be confirmed by Sept. 9 so absentee ballots can be mailed out and in voters' hands by Sept. 29.

Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom

Under the legal abortion bills' language, the right to an abortion would become a constitutionally-protected practice.

"Reproductive freedom" as its phrased is defined as "the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care."

When the petition was submitted, it cleared the signature requirement by more than 150,000. 

But when it came to the Board of State Canvassers, both Republicans on the board rejected the petition over concerns that a section of the language as it appeared when signatures were being gathered was confusing. Particularly, the canvassers cited what appeared to be missing spaces in one line of language.

Debate soon followed over the precise duty of the board since their decision was based on only confirming if enough signatures were gathered and if the form of the ballot petition was appropriate. Nothing about the content of the petition is to be considered.

Michigan Right to Vote initiative

The other petition the high court will rule on would widen the breadth of voting rights in the state's Declaration of Rights. 

Among the rights that would be installed include laws governing when absentee ballots can be dropped off, if unsolicited ballot applications can be received unsolicited, and guaranteeing the right to vote with a photo ID, signed affidavit, or matching voter registration signatures.

The state would also be required to make more absentee ballot drop boxes available. 

During consideration of this petition, Republicans rejected the initiative again over the proposal language, arguing it failed to explain how the state constitution would be impacted if it passed. Notably, the board approved the proposal and its language earlier in the year.

Domino's pizza driver ambushed while during delivery

A vacant house in Detroit is being used as a place for delivery driver ambush robberies - and the latest turned deadly. On Tuesday night a 62-year-old was shot and killed at that house. Now police want to catch the suspect before it happens again. This house, at 16557 Lenore Street near Six Mile and Telegraph, has been in shambles for years.

"As I was growing up it was a beautiful house, He extended the garage he had race cars, it was a good family house, it’s just not anymore," said Jim Gibbs who lives next door. Three times in the past month alone, it has been so much worse - the scene of two robberies and one murder. "We found out about the other two all right here, next door in the driveway, it was surreal," said Lewis Ellis.

Ellis came home last night and noticed the 62-year-old victim. "The delivery guy was laying on the ground and the truck was in the middle of the driveway," he said. "My first thought was maybe he had a heart attack or something."

All three victims were pizza delivery drivers called to the home - then ambushed. The man who was killed has been identified as Patrick Higgins. "Just a humble, good-hearted person. just getting back on his feet," said one friend. No arrests have been made, we are told the other two drivers worked for Jet's and Hungry Howe's. As far as we know they were not harmed.

Read more here

Detroit Lafayette Coney Island closed for rat droppings, Detroit health department says

Lafayette Coney Island, a Detroit institution, was shut down Wednesday following a failed health inspection. The historic Downtown Detroit staple was closed Wednesday after rat videos from inside were posted onto social media and health inspectors found droppings inside.

Workers at Lafayette said the problem starts with rats from a nearby garden who make their way inside the two empty spaces in the building — and then through holes in the basement wall at Lafayette. They covered up all the windows late tonight and are closed until further notice. Customers told FOX 2 they've seen rats and mice. 

Someone tagged the city’s health department in the video Tuesday morning, and it in turn, sent inspectors there immediately. "A few inspectors were there on-site and they went through their inspections, and they did not see any rats in the building but they saw rat droppings," said Denise Fair Razo. "That is a huge violation, that means the food that they are providing may not be safe.

Razo heads up the Detroit Health Department which strongly encouraged Lafayette to close temporarily - and it did. And the reaction on social media has been merciless. "I guess American Coney Island won the war" Shar Shobe wrote, noting the longstanding rivalry between the two restaurants next door to each other.

Read more about the city's inspection here

Eastern Michigan University files lawsuit against striking faculty

Faculty at Eastern Michigan are on strike outside the Ypsilanti university. On Tuesday night, 91% of the faculty voted to strike. Main concerns include wages and health insurance. 

The university has filed a lawsuit claiming the strike is illegal because the faculty are public employees.

"Nobody wanted to go on strike. We are aware of the legal issues around striking, but it didn't have to be this way. We've been negotiating in good faith with our administration since July. We shouldn't have gotten to this point," said Matt Kirkpatrick, an English professor who was named in the lawsuit. "We've gotten to a point where our administration hasn't been responding to our last proposal on compensation and health care."

Kirkpatrick said the strike is a "last resort." The school is trying to force faculty back to class with the suit. 

More on the strike here

Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting rider in Detroit

An Uber driver from Dearborn Heights is accused of sexually assaulting a Roseville woman while giving her a ride in Detroit over the summer. Detroit police responded to the area of Lantz Street and the Chrysler Service Drive around 9 a.m. July 10, where they found the 24-year-old victim lying on the side of the road after Wessam Ali-Karem Al-Thwej allegedly sexually assaulted her.

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, 37-year-old Al-Thwej is accused of assaulting the woman inside his vehicle before putting her out and fleeing. An investigation led officers to him on Sept. 2.

Al-Thwej is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and unlawful imprisonment. His bond was set at $250,000 cash/surety bond. If he posts bond, he must wear a GPS tether.

"There is no doubt that ride companies provide a great service, but this case is an example of a requested ride that went horribly wrong. Be careful when you use these services, not every driver can or should be trusted blindly," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. Al-Thwej is due back in court Sept. 16 for a probable cause conference. 

More here

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Daily Forecast

Another superb weather day is upon us Thursday with low 80s and sun expected both today and tomorrow. More rain is possible Saturday and likely Sunday evening.

What else we're watching

  1. Police investigating the stabbing death of a reporter in Las Vegas have arrested a Democratic politician under suspicion he murdered the journalist. It's a shocking development after the reporter published multiple stories about the politician during his failed primary run for a county seat.
  2. A new survey by a University of Michigan department studying local politics found nearly half of all elected officials and those appointed to local seats have been harassed over the past few years, according to the Detroit News.
  3. An arson investigation in Superior Township found at least seven fire incidents at a mobile home park in August and early September. Michigan State Police are now involved in the fire investigation.
  4. The Detroit City Council will consider whether it should commit more funding to ShotSpotter technology in Detroit after the mayor called for added resources to help the police department.
  5. The Detroit Auto Show isn't just for wheels anymore. There will be aerial mobility displays as well during the famed show next week.

Queen Elizabeth II under medical supervision as doctors ‘concerned’ about health

Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II is under medical supervision as doctors are "concerned for Her Majesty’s health." The announcement comes a day after the 96-year-old monarch canceled a meeting of her Privy Council and was told to rest.

The palace says the queen is "comfortable" and remains at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she has spent the summer.