The consensus among several lawyers on both sides of the bridge referendum issue is that a change in Michigan's constitution could not stop construction of the agreed-upon bridge between Windsor and Detroit.
However, a lawyer consulting with Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun said both Canada and Michigan are breaking current laws by moving the bridge forward using an "interlocal agreement.".
As a result, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge are putting together a petition to change Michigan's constitution to require a referendum on any new bridges between Canada and the state.
Robert Sedler is a lawyer working on the petition drive. He said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder violated Michigan law when he signed the international agreement last Friday.
"The governor's action violates the constitution," Sedler said. "He doesn't have the power to bind Michigan."
Lansing constitutional lawyer Richard McLellan said Snyder does have the power.
"In 1963, we adopted a new constitution that has a specific provision in it, saying that the State of Michigan can enter into agreements with Canada," McLellan said. "Then the Legislature passed a law in 1967 and they've amended it four times ... that permits the State to enter into agreements with Canada. So the legislature has already approved it."
Several agree the U.S. government can always build a bridge here whenever it wants to but Sedler said it takes a vote by U.S. Congress.
Transport Canada spokesperson Mark Butler said it only takes a presidential permit that comes through the U.S. State Department to allow Michigan to go ahead.
Mclellan said Moroun could be successful in changing Michigan's constitution to require a public vote before future bridges are built but he predicted no court would make it apply to this bridge, which is already agreed upon.
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