So interesting to see that others also think the operations of the Michigan Supreme Court are out of kilter. This most recent election should give most of us some pause to wonder where all the money came from and where it went. Rich Robinson and his organization, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, are in the early stages of compiling where some of the money went. In terms of television advertising for the Supreme Court he’s come up with a total of more than $8 million. That doesn’t include printed material, the infamous robocalls…and a whole lot more untraceable funding. It’s darned near the television ads of $10+ million so far tallied on the gubernatorial race. But it’s still a relative bargain, especially when compared to the House and Senate races…$30 million in three Congressional races.
PAC money? You want PAC money: here you go. Aw, heck, just poke around at the site and the more you see, the more you might wonder: What do people expect for all that money? What are the stakes? Sure looks like you get most bang for your buck at he Supreme Court level. You can influence the outcome of one of the three pillars of government with relative ease…if you have the money. And people do.
Assuming this is not the way to go about it all, how are we going to fix it?
So glad you asked. …And just in time is this news report by Dawson Bell of The Detroit Free Press outlining a 24-member task force. Chaired by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, the task force is going to look “without preconceptions” at how the High Court and the Court of Appeals function.
Dan Pero, former Governor John Engler’s former chief of staff (and now head of the American Justice Partnership) waxes apoplectic, or seems to, in the account.
Whatever is intended–Pero posits it’s to do away with election of judges and Justices–the task force may serve to focus attention where it’s been badly needed. This could be a great thing and maybe they’ll take up the issues of secrecy at the High Court.
Justice Elizabeth Weaver (retired) has been working on analysis of such reform for years. Her plan is something that is well deserving of consideration, and it may be that this task force will take up her plan sooner or later. It doesn’t do away with elections, it takes the political parties out of the process in the nominations, and it eliminates the Governor’s unchecked powers of appointment.
This may be a chance to have sensible reform at the Court if we as citizens take notice and engage in an active role in the process. It IS your court.