Friday, January 4, 2008

Weaver proposes reform for selection, election of MSC justices

With little fanfare, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver last week floated a proposal on her privately funded website that calls for sweeping changes in the way MSC justices are selected and elected.

Weaver proposes a constitutional amendment that would limit appointments or elections to the high court to one eight-year term.

In addition, Weaver would end the practice of having political parties nominate candidates for a supposedly nonpartisan judicial ballot. Supreme Court candidates would have to scrounge for signatures to get on the ballot, just as all other judicial candidates must do. Weaver would take soft money out of play by requiring publicly funded campaigns.

Another of Weaver's proposed constitutional amendments would require the Governor to act with Michigan Senate's advice and consent when filling vacancies. The Governor would also be required to consider non-binding recommendations from a judicial qualifications committee.

Weaver, as evidenced by the introductory comments to her proposals, is frustrated with the way the "gang of four," her derisive label for Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Justices Maura Corrigan, Robert Young and Stephen Markman, made it to the state's top court:

The problem with the Governor's unchecked appointment power to create power blocs on the Supreme Court cannot be overemphasized. Three of the seven justices now on the Michigan Supreme Court were appointed to fill vacancies on the Court by then-Governor Engler: Chief Justice Taylor, Justice Young, and Justice Markman. Those three Justices, plus Justice Corrigan, were first appointed to the Court of Appeals by then-Governor Engler to fill vacancies on that court. Justice Corrigan was openly and substantially supported by Governor Engler when she campaigned for a seat on the Supreme Court. It is significant, and troubling, that when Governor Engler appointed these 4 justices, not one of them had any prior trial judge experience.

1 comment:

Mike Butler said...

Excellent post, Ed. Justice Weaver's ideas about making the Supreme Court selection process "partisanship resistant", if not "partisanship proof", are definitely worth of consideration. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.