Gavel Grab

No Traction Yet in Michigan for Proposed Judicial Selection Reforms

Michigan legislators haven’t introduced legislation to enact recommendations of a Michigan task force, made almost a year ago, for reforming judicial elections. But some advocates haven’t given up hope that the legislature will act.

State Sen. Glenn Anderson, a Democrat, said the legislature ought to consider some of the recommendations because it is important to reduce the influence of politics and campaign cash on the election of state state Supreme Court justices.

“We have to realize that this has the potential of contaminating the whole system and undermining any confidence that the public has in our judicial system,” Anderson told Michigan Radio for its article, “The influence of money and politics in Michigan Supreme Court elections.”

Prominently featured in the article is Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a Justice at Stake partner group; Robinson has reported that three out of four dollars in the high-spending Supreme Court election last year supported “issue ads” by outside groups, and this spending was not required to be disclosed publicly.

The article also mentioned the impact that hard-hitting issue ads can have well after Election Day. “[T]hey’re certainly not helpful to the collegiality that one needs when on gets to the court and you have to work with six other justices,” said Mary Ann Sarosi, who advised the winning campaign of Supreme Court candidate Bridget McCormack.

The bipartisan task force made among its top recommendations the full disclosure of those funding state Supreme Court campaign ads and open, nonpartisan primaries for the Supreme Court (see Gavel Grab).

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