It’s already beginning …

We’re still 18 months away from the next time we select Michigan Supreme Court justices but a quick visit to the Michigan Democratic Party’s Web site might convince you that Election Day was just around the corner.

Justice Robert Young is drawing early re-election heat

Justice Robert Young is drawing early re-election heat

Having dispatched Cliff Taylor in last November’s contest with Justice Diane Hathaway’s election to the high court, the Democrats are already putting the smack on Justice Robert Young, who is up for re-election in 2010.

From the Dem’s home page this morning:

“Justice Robert Young: Enemy of the People”

“Young: Doing Good Not Judges’ Role”

“Law Day 2009: Justice Young Erodes Vital Constitutional Right – Young Undermines Right to Trial By Jury”

“Justice Young Calls Plaintiffs, Justice Weaver Liars”

Wow! At this rate, by October 2010, the Dems may be blaming Young for earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis and possible asteroid strikes.

Seriously, this sort of partisan ballyhoo is to be expected but what’s noteworthy is the amount of it, and so early in the game, too.

All of this underscores just how important the Dems think it is to secure another reliable seat on the Michigan Supreme Court. The current lineup, by political party, has Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, and Justices Michael Cavanagh and Diane Hathaway in the Democratic corner, and Justices Young, Maura Corrigan and Stephen Markman in the Republican camp.

Justice Elizabeth Weaver, a Republican, has been critical of the other Republican justices and has sided with the Democrats on some issues. Weaver is also up for re-election in 2010. There’s been talk that the Republicans may not nominate her and that she might run as an independent.

With that in mind, the Democrats are likely thinking that it’s critical to deliver a knock-out punch to Young in 2010 to achieve a solid 4-3 majority on the court.

The Democrats are getting some early help in other quarters.

First, some context: The State Bar of Michigan’s Consumer Law Section recently released a study, which concluded that Michigan Supreme Court decisions have left the Michigan Consumer Protection Act “toothless.”

The study examined MSC opinions dealing with the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and found that, over the years, the court has exempted from the act most of the businesses that generate most of the consumers’ complaints.

It didn’t take long for the Detroit Free Press to paint some faces on the study’s statistical analysis and finger who the Freep’s editorial board thought was the main culprit. From last Friday’s editorial page:

In two landmark cases in 1999 and 2007, the Republican state Supreme Court majority installed by Gov. John Engler effectively gutted the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, ruling that the intent behind the law was to exempt nearly three-quarters of the businesses that generate the most consumer complaints.

Both rulings, authored by Justice Robert Young Jr., contravened 23 years of aggressive enforcement in which the attorney general and consumer advocates relied on the MCPA to hold unscrupulous businesses accountable for deceptive and unfair practices.

It looks like Young is in for a long, hard campaign.

5 thoughts on “It’s already beginning …

  1. Since it appears Justice Young actually *did* call Justice Weaver a liar, and he actually *did* say that it was not a judge’s job to do good, it seems a bit misleading to frame reports of these facts as political and to compare them to blaming Justice Young for “earthquakes.”

    Those facts may not be flattering to Justice Young but they are facts.

    Similarly it is well established that the MCPA has been rendered all but moot by opinions authored by Justice Young. Again, unflattering but true.

    The “Michigan Lawyer” might want to note and acknowledge the difference between facts unflattering to Justice Young, and political hyperbole.

    As you put it, above: “Wow!”

  2. JoeThePundit, thanks for taking the time to post a comment.

    It’s tough not to frame what’s on a political party’s Web site as political.

    And whether literally true facts are flattering or unflattering is largely in the eye of the beholder.

    Here’s a fact — Justice Young was quoted in the Muskegon Chronicle as saying, “The role of judges is not to ‘do good.’ It is to do justice under the law.”

    Here’s political hyperbole — The Democratic Party’s link to the Muskegon Chronicle’s story was framed this way: “Young: Doing Good Not Judges’ Role”

    The point of this post was this: The Democrats are marshaling information they view as unflattering to Justice Young very early in the game.

    The intended joke was that if the Dem’s efforts are this intense when the election is still 18 months away, by the time October 2009 rolls around, they may have nothing left except spurious accusations that he’s responsible for natural disasters.

  3. It is certainly political to take remarks out of context. The democratic website did just that when it failed to mention the second sentence of the quote. Is it really all that unflattering to Justice Young that he said his job is not to do good, but to do justice under the law? Isn’t doing good more of a legislative function while doing justice is a judicial one?

    I can understand if some disagree with Justice Young, but they shouldn’t play games like this. These quotes have nothing to do with the issues and as facts they should be complete rather than selectively tailored to mislead. Simply take him to task on the issues if you disagree with him. The democrats should put the full qoute up on their website.

  4. A bit specious to say that if one takes an otherwise fact, and places it on a ‘political website’ it therefore becomes suspect.

    And what of Justice Young’s referring to Justice Weaver as a ‘liar?’ Is there some twist of phrase you might use to explain how that is only offensive and inappropriate “in the eye of the beholder?”

    It appears you decided, a priori, that you wanted to frame the information circulating about Justice Young as partisan and then you did so, no matter how ill-fitting the result.

    Whether people choose to behold such antics as fitting for a Justice of the Supreme Court is, of course, up to their individual eyes.

    But that does not bear upon whether the facts are the facts.

    Maybe the constant influx of embarrassing information concerning Justice Young is not a matter of “Democratic efforts.” Maybe it reflects a Justice who says and does embarrassing things?

  5. Your article begs the question: Should judges be elected or appointed? We may have the opporuntity to debate this and other important issues if Michigan voters decide to call for a State Constitutional Convention next year. The question is automatically on the ballot every 16 years and the next opportunity to vote is in November, 2010.
    Citizen groups are already working to encourage a YES vote to at least allow for issue discussions to take place in something other than a Legislative setting dominated by re-election concerns and special interest lobbyists.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s