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Justice Weaver Lays Out Plan to De-Politicize the Court

The Michigan Supreme has come under a great deal of criticism for the political nature of the Court. A University of Chicago Law Review found the Michigan Supreme Court the worst state supreme court in the entire country. See also: Jack Lessenberry, Metro Times - News+Views: Let's make a deal, One of the principal charges is that the Court is too partisan and that the politics of the judges control the substances of the rulings.

As a result of this,
Michigan is taking a serious look at changing the way we select judges. This move has broad cross-party support. Democratic Justice Marilyn Kelly and Republican Sixth Circuit (and former Michigan Supreme Court Justice James P. Ryan) are chairing a task force on this reform. The reform movement is supported by the conservative Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chroncile, and other Michigan papers have supported this change. This is particularly timely, in lieu of the charges that in the last election, corporations with a financial stake in future rulings invested heavily in the judicial races.

According to the Michigan Law Blog, former Justice Elizabeth Weaver came forward with a multi-faceted plan to depoliticize Michigan’s Supreme Court. Her suggestions are interesting, but one has to question whether Justice Weaver’s name has become so tarnished that she cannot be the message bearer for these proposals.

An elected judiciary (particularly after the Citizens United ruling) is particularly troubling. In
Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 103 SCt 876 (2010),the United States Supreme Court struck down limits on campaign spending by outside organizations. People want a neutral judiciary and most jurists want to provide this service to the public, but as justices need to raise money, fend off attack adds, etc., it makes it very difficult for a judge or justice not to consider his/her own political career when ruling on a case.