LANSING – The first legal challenge has been filed to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, the new entity that will own and oversee the to be constructed tunnel housing the Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

That a lawsuit was filed was no surprise, but the plaintiff in the case is both a surprise and not a surprise. It’s none other than Robert Davis, the serial litigant, via his organization “A Felon’s Crusade for Equality, Honesty and Truth.”

In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Court of Claims, Mr. Davis claims the law creating the authority, PA 359 of 2018, violates Article V, Section 3 of the Constitution, which limits the terms of members named to any newly created state board or commission to four years. The law states the board members are to serve six-year terms.

“The 6-year terms of office of the Defendants Nystrom, Richardson and (England) contravene and violate the clear and unambiguous language of” the Constitution, the lawsuit says in reference to authority members Mike Nystrom J.R. Richardson and Anthony England. “Without a definite term of office, defendants Corridor Authority and its board cannot lawfully exercise the duties set forth under Public Act 359.”

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the six-year terms violate the Constitution and that none of the board members can exercise any powers or authority.

Environmental groups, Indian tribes, local residents and possibly others also are expected to challenge the legitimacy of the authority, though where they intend to file their case is unclear.

Mr. Davis’ lawsuit was assigned to Judge Stephen Borrello.

The six-year terms for the new board comport with the Constitution, Snyder Communications Director Ari Adler said. The corridor authority was created within the Mackinac Bridge Authority Act, which was enacted prior to the adoption of the 1963 Constitution. The bridge authority act provides for six-year terms, thus the corridor authority members have six-year terms, he said.

The question the courts will have to answer is whether the corridor authority board amounts to a “board or commission created or enlarged after the effective date” of the 1963 Constitution or an appendage of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, which was created in a 1952 law.

This story was published by Gongwer News Service.