Gavel Grab

Michigan Paper Calls for Judicial Appointments

“Michigan should seriously consider appointing its justices,”  a Grand Rapids Press editorial declared this week.

Although Michigan’s Supreme Court election ballot is technically nonpartisan, the editorial notes that judges are nominated by the state’s political parties, often resulting in vicious partisan campaigns.

Most recently, Justice at Stake declared Michigan’s 2008 campaign the “nation’s dirtiest” fall Supreme Court election.  TV ads depicted former Chief Justice Clifford Taylor as sleeping during a case and others asserted that opponent Judge Diane Hathaway was soft on sex offenders and terrorism suspects. The editorial said:

The bruising November judicial election … adds to a compelling case for changing the way the state chooses its most important jurists. Michigan should seriously consider appointing its justices. The court’s dignity and influence have been impaired in recent years by the judicial combat during election campaigns.

In another development, the Michigan Supreme Court has elected Marilyn Kelly as Chief Justice to replace Taylor, who was defeated in November. As a Free Press article observes, Kelly faces a strongly divided court but “vow[s] to seek common ground with all of her colleagues.” 

For more information on the Hathaway-Taylor race, you can see earlier Gavel Grab postings.

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