Institute for Justice and Mackinac Center Comment on Court Order Requiring Center to Release List to Michigan Education Association

John Kramer
John Kramer · September 4, 2002

Washington, DC—A Michigan circuit court today ordered the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to release to the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, a list of more than 20,000 individuals who received a December 2001 fund raising letter from the Mackinac Center.  The order is part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the MEA, alleging that the Mackinac Center “misappropriated” the MEA’s likeness and that of its president by quoting his news conference remarks in the letter.  Not at issue in the lawsuit is the context or accuracy of the quote, which is “Frankly, I admire what they [the Mackinac Center] have done.”

The Mackinac Center and the Institute for Justice, the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm representing the Center, issued the following statements in response:

“The Mackinac Center and the Institute for Justice did everything we could to protect the people on the list,” said Clark Neily, an Institute for Justice attorney representing the Mackinac Center.  “But the court has ordered us to turn it over, and that is what we’ve done.”

Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Joseph Lehman stated, “The principle of not identifying individuals who support the Mackinac Center is not being compromised.  The document is not a list of Mackinac Center members or supporters.  Rather, it is a mailing list of more than 20,000 recipients of a letter who we thought might be interested in our activities in 2001.”  He said, “The list does not indicate in any way who has supported, or not supported, the Mackinac Center, nor the reason any individual received the mailing.  Neither has there been any demand that we identify those people.”

“Per the court’s instructions, the MEA must limit its use of the list to the purpose intended by the court order, simply investigating its claims in the lawsuit,” Neily said.  “We will monitor the MEA to ensure that it does not harass anyone on the list, threatening important First Amendment freedoms of association.”