Gavel Grab

Commentary: Politics as Usual in Picking New Michigan Justice?

A bipartisan judicial selection task force provided an “excellent blueprint” for improving the Michigan Supreme Court’s sometimes reputation as “a laughingstock and a disgrace,” but Gov. Rick Snyder (photo) appears poised to ignore the recommendations, Michigan Radio commentator Jack Lessenberry wrote.

It was announced this week that Justice Diane Hathaway will retire later this month in the face of alleged ethics violations. On Tuesday, Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg called in a statement for Snyder to accept a task force recommendation and create an advisory screening commission to help fill the vacancy (see Gavel Grab).

Lessenberry said it appears that Snyder doesn’t appear inclined to create an advisory commission. “Instead, he is likely to pick some solidly Republican judge who the party thinks will be able to win election next time,” Lessenberry wrote.

He concluded, “Michigan’s Supreme Court has too often been a laughingstock and a disgrace in recent years, and last year’s task force offered an excellent blueprint for improving it. But tragically, it looks like it will be ignored. ”

Justice at Stake’s Brandenburg said on Tuesday that Snyder “could help bolster confidence in fair and impartial courts by taking a page from the report of a bipartisan Michigan judicial selection task force.” He said more than 30 states have a process, similar to the one recommended in Michigan, for filling interim high court vacancies.

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