Mich. Supreme Court candidates should be appointed, not elected - KMSP-TV

Michigan Supreme Court candidates should be appointed, not elected

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By Tim Skubick
FOX 2 Political Consultant

LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - Your Honor, if it please the court, here is Exhibit A as to why supreme court judges should be appointed not elected.

If the proponents of the appointed system could haul the two political parties into court, they could surely get a conviction for stretching the truth when it comes to political ads promoting the three Democrats and three Republicans running for the high court.

Michigan voters, who know little if anything about the six candidates, will have to pick three next month based on what they've seen on the tube and what they have seen is suspect.

The GOP is running ads against Connie Marie Kelley, Bridget Mary McCormack, and Shelia Johnson and the unsuspecting viewer would conclude that the trio should probably be in jail for being sympathetic to child porn peddlers, helping the terrorists and being for crime.

Not to be outdone, the Democrats have lumped Justices Brian Zarha, Stephen Markman, and Judge Colleen O'Brien as against hospital patients and in bed with the insurance companies. Based on the commercials you wouldn't vote for any of the six even if they were running for dog catcher. You'd be afraid they would abuse the dogs.

Welcome to the whacky world of trying to get folks elected to the high court where your gender and name often trump your judicial qualifications.

If you are a female candidate, the researchers suggest you automatically get seven percent of the vote just because your male opponents don't wear a dress.

And a good Irish-Catholic name is worth a ton of votes just because it's not a Protestant-Lutheran name. Note the names O'Brien and Kelley in the mix. Note there are already two Kelly's on the court out of seven justices. You get the point on the impact of the last name.

For years serious lawyers and others have favored turning this process over to the governor to pick court candidates with advise and consent of the state senate. And for years the notion has not been settled out of court because the two political parties want to selfishly retain the power to pick the candidates under the guise that you should have the right to select the winners based on the list the parties select.

If you knew who the candidates were and had a real sense of what they stood for, one could make the case that the elective process is working. But be honest, for many of you, you are  reading these candidate names  here for the first time.

So alas, the system we have will be with us for a long time because there are those, like the former Chief Justice who was accused of sleeping on the bench, who refuse to budge on any reforms. You would think that Republican Cliff Taylor would be at the head of the line for change.


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