A federal judge has denied Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s attempt to side with Flint residents in a lawsuit against the state that compels the door-to-door delivery of bottled water for residents without a properly installed water filter.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson called Schuette’s attempt “superficial posturing,” and said it created a “troubling ethical issue” that could delay the case, the Detroit News reports.
On Monday, Lawson issued a 10-page opinion and order denying Schuette’s request to file an amicus brief “on behalf of the people of the state of Michigan.”
An amicus brief is filed by a person who is not a party to a case but has a strong interest in it and petitions the judge to be allowed to provide information that may help the case.
Lawson believed that Schuette’s brief did not provide any new facts that would help the case and in fact presented an ethical conflict because assistant attorneys general have already appeared in court on behalf of state defendants including Gov. Rick Snyder.
“The proposed amicus brief has not introduced any new arguments or offered a perspective that has not been presented by the parties already. Instead, the attorney general has taken a position aligned with the plaintiffs and at odds with other attorneys in his own office,” Lawson wrote. “In doing so, he has managed to inject a troubling ethical issue into this lawsuit, potentially complicating adjudication of the serious legal questions before the court, without adding anything of substance.”
Andrea Bitely, Schuette’s spokeswoman, told the Detroit News that Schuette will not appeal the ruling.
“The attorney general respectfully disagrees with the ruling because safe water is his priority,” Bitely said. “We originally obtained concurrence from all parties prior to the filing, and because it failed to include mention of the conflict wall in this case. Attorney General Schuette will continue to fight aggressively for Flint residents and elected officials who expressed their support of his actions.”
Critics of Schuette agreed with Lawson’s ruling and said that Schuette was using the brief for political gain.
“Anyone who has been following Bill Schuette’s career carousel could tell what this was from the start: a shameless attempt to gain cheap political points off the backs of Flint families as the 2018 race for governor heats up,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said.
Lawson’s ruling comes just one day before he must decide on an emergency motion to force Michigan and Flint officials to comply with his Nov. 10 court order to pay for and provide delivery of four cases of bottled water per resident to every home without verifiable faucet filters.
Both the state of Michigan and the city of Flint have gone to court to fight against the water delivery.
On Tuesday, Lawson will decide if and how to force Michigan and Flint officials to comply with the court order.
Read more at the Detroit News.