Making Democracy Work

Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Annual Holiday Party!

Join us Friday, December 9, 2016, from 6-9:30pm at the home of Jim and Lorraine Stepanek, 16695 White Oak Lane, New Buffalo, MI. for our Annual Holiday Party -- our major holiday event. The main dish will be provided. Please bring a dish, appetizer, or dessert to share. BYOB. Watch for the Evite sent to all members on 11/20/16 and RSVP, please.

League Gets 11/15 Update on Pipeline Under Mackinaw called "Line 5"

Nov. 15's showing of the documentary, "Great Lake, Bad Lines," was a huge success with a great crowd, a fascinating speaker who led us through an interesting discussion, and a little money was even raised for our continuing programs. We were educated on the history of the pipeline, referred to as Line 5 and owned by Canadian firm Enbridge, Inc. It carries oil from Canada, crossing into the UP and "runs along" Lake Michigan for over 600 miles before traveling through the lake from somewhere near St. Ignace to Mackinaw City and then southeast through Michigan until it joins another pipeline near Sarnia. Kestrel Marcel did a fine job with her presentation after the documentary. If you missed the film, you can see it here:

Maintaining our Wonderful Watershed in Berrien and Cass Counties.

On Thursday, October 20, 2016, at a Noon luncheon we watched a detailed presentation by Marcy Hamilton, Senior Planner with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission on the Importance of Maintaining Septic Systems and the impact on our watersheds along with other important programs at the SWMPC. She works with communities and non-profits to facilitate land use planning, advance sustainable development, foster collaboration, increase citizen participation, develop grants and implement projects around the Southwest Michigan region. A video recording of her fascinating presentation is available on our YouTube website.

4 Election Forums Held on 2 Nights

The Riverwood Luncheon

Our speaker at Coach's Restaurant, 2528 Glenlord Rd, Stevensville, at Noon on Sept 14, 2016, will be Rick Compton, CEO of Riverwood Center. He will give an overview of their services, different populations they serve, how their services can be accessed, how their board works. He will bring his clinical director for those who wish to ask clinical questions.

All are invited to attend what promises to be a very inspiring and informative luncheon.

New York Times: Supreme Court Allows 'Straight Ticket' Voting in Michigan

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Sept. 9 refused to revive a Michigan law that barred straight-ticket voting.

The court's brief order gave no reasons. Two justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said they would have granted a request from state officials to allow them to enforce the law in the coming election.

Straight-ticket voting, in which voters may choose a party's entire slate with a single notation, had been available as an option in Michigan since 1891. The new law, signed in January by Gov. Rick Snyder, required voters to cast votes for individual candidates -- but it was blocked in July by a federal judge.

"The reason I signed it is I think it's a good part of the process that people look at each individual office and they look at each candidate," Mr. Snyder told The Detroit News. "It's not just about partisan politics."

John Rappaport, University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Law, Discusses U.S. Supreme Court Makeup and Workings on April 29

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in February, questions about the makeup and workings of that court came into sharp focus. John Rappaport, Assistant Professor of Law at University of Chicago, visited us to discuss "Our U.S. Supreme Court: Who they are, How they got there, What they do, and Why it matters" at a forum sponsored by our League on April 29. This forum is part of the LWV's nonpartisan education project. A question and answer period followed his presentation. You can see our event at .

John Rappaport clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is currently on the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School. His teaching and research interests include criminal procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, and evidence.

Judges of the state court system in Michigan are elected by voters to specified terms. By contrast, judges of the federal courts, including the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, are not elected. Rather, they are nominated by the President and appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. Once appointed, they serve "during good behavior"--in effect, until they either die or resign.

In March, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant position on the Supreme Court. Unless the pending nomination is approved by the current Senate, responsibility for filling that vacancy will rest with the President and Senators holding office next year. Consequently, the composition, duties, and role of the U.S. Supreme Court remain major issues in this election cycle.

The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The LWV promotes an informed electorate by providing information at .

Voting rights in the U.S.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas' voter identification law, one of the strictest in the country, violates the Voting Rights Act. Voting rights advocates are praising the decision as a significant victory. It was the fourth time in nearly four years that a federal court found that the Texas law discriminated against or disproportionately affected black and Hispanic voters.

Annual Meeting for 2016 Pebblewood Country Club

The annual dinner held June 23 was enjoyed by all. Our honorees, Sara Bode, Fred Lighthall, Bonnie Pollack, Judy Scully, and Jean Sharp (absent), were surprised - pleasantly - with the accolades showered upon them for their many significant contributions to the League over the years.

Many of the "Fund Raising Ideas" slips distributed among the tables were returned. Ideas ranged from holding a raffle to another tour of Cook Nuclear. I'm sure more of you have additional ideas. Please let us know when anything occurs to you that may be of help to us in raising the funds we need to assure a balanced budget. I am happy to report that we did get one generous donation at the dinner. It's a start. You know who you are. Thank you!!

As part of our dinner program, we learned from member Fred Lighthall about the contents of and the time, energy and extraordinary efforts required in writing his newly-published book, "Disastrous High-tech Decision Making".

We also heard from board members Liz Ennis and Barb Lackner about their experiences at the LWVUS convention in Washington, DC, earlier in June. And we elected Bette Pierman and Lorraine Stepanek to two-year terms on the board. Then we recognized continuing board members Dutton, Clapper, Ennis, Klawiter, Lackner, Ripley, Ristau and Zilke.


Liz Ennis, LWVBCC Board member, past president, and current Education Director of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, participated as a panelist in this local production by South Bend's Public Broadcasting station, WNIT, Sunday, Nov. 15. Liz made a superbly educational presentation not only about redistricting in Michigan but also about the League's mission, especially with regard to voter rights and other current issues citizens need to know about.

You can watch the 57-minute program by clicking here.

The panel included Liz Ennis, Brandon Smith, State News Reporter, Indiana Public Broadcasting, and Julia Vaughn, Policy Director, Common Cause of Indiana.

LWVBCC Newsletters

View our informative e-newsletter, published almost monthly. The November 2016 newsletter is now available. Links to past newsletters can be found here. The newsletters are copies of an e-newsletter and do not have the same professional appearance as the originals. If you would like to join our mailing list email webmaster.