Judge rules Detroit's bankruptcy unconstitutional

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DETROIT -- A Michigan judge Friday declared that Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing violated the state's constitution and ordered Gov. Rick Snyder to withdraw it. The state immediately appealed.

Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina in Lansing criticized Snyder, a Republican, for rushing the filing into court before she could rule on a bid by city workers and their pension funds to consider an emergency request to block the filing.

"I'm finding the actions that were taken in filing bankruptcy as overreaching and unconstitutional," she said.

But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he will appeal Aquilina's rulings Friday and seek emergency consideration by the Michigan Court of Appeals. He wants her orders stayed pending the appeals, he said in a news release.

Residents and business owners in Detroit said they were nervously wondering after the filing whether they'll see improvements after years of neglect. Snyder and Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, promised weary residents yesterday that they would see better city services in 30 to 60 days.

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But resident Kirk Mayes suggested that unless Detroit receives services on par with its suburban neighbors, Orr should "sell" his promises "to somebody else."

Detroit, a former manufacturing powerhouse and cradle of the U.S. automotive industry, has struggled for decades as companies moved or closed, crime became rampant and its population shriveled by about 25 percent in the past 10 years to 700,000.

In an interview with Reuters Friday, Snyder acknowledged that the bankruptcy filing would be seen as a new low point for the city, but said, "This is the day to stabilize Detroit."

Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that White House officials had been briefed on Detroit's situation, but that it was unclear what help the administration could provide.

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