A federal judge threw U.S. Rep. John Conyers a political lifeline Friday, ordering the Detroit Democrat onto the Aug. 5 primary ballot because his lawsuit to overturn a Michigan election law is likely to succeed. Judge Matthew Leitman’s ruling allowing Conyers to join challenger Horace Sheffield on the primary ballot capped a whirlwind day for the longest-serving African-American in Congress, as he seeks a 26th term in office. A report released earlier Friday by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson agreed with Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers was ineligible to run and found he fell more than 540 signatures short of the 1,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. But Leitman, in a 22-page ruling, said Conyers and two petition circulators whose signatures were disqualified have a “substantial likelihood of success” in showing Michigan’s requirement for circulators to be registered voters law is unconstitutional and ordered Conyers on the ballot “because time is of the essence.”
The order helps “provide any party who may wish to appeal as much time as possible in which to do so” and gives the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the most time possible to review an appeal, Leitman wrote.
Leitman relied on Johnson’s report that showed Conyers would have more than the required 1,000 signatures if the voter registration requirement for petition circulators were struck down. He ordered Johnson and Garrett to provide “any certification and/or determination” by no later than 5 p.m. Thursday so Conyers gets placed on the ballot.