Who’s next?

So the scuttlebutt around the Michigan Lawyers Weekly office this afternoon, now that it’s fairly certain that Justice Maura D. Corrigan is going to leave the Michigan Supreme Court to join the Gov. Rick Snyder cabinet is: who’s next?

Who has the qualifications to be a good Michigan Supreme Court justice? And the conservatism to please the Republican base? And importantly, who can win an election in 2012?

An obvious choice is Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jane Markey. She was a candidate early for the Michigan Supreme Court race, but the Republicans nominated Mary Beth Kelly to run in the nonpartisan election. Kelly won handily, garnering more votes than incumbents Justice Robert P. Young Jr. (who is expected to be named Chief Justice tomorrow at the Court’s case conference), and Alton T. Davis, a popular northern Michigan candidate.

But a possibly magical choice, according to Inside Michigan Politics publisher Bill Ballenger, is Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly.

“Can you imagine the good fortune of having a great name like that?” he said.

And, he added, she’s qualified.

It’s a very personal decision that Gov. Snyder has to make, Ballenger added. And certainly, he said, Markey is a qualified choice.

“But it’s important to remember that who ever the new justice is going to be will have to win an election in 2012 (for the remainder of Corrigan’s term, which ends in 2014) and again in 2014 (for a full term),” Ballenger said.

It’s possible that the new governor has known this for some time, he added.

“There was a suggestion that Justice Corrigan has been interested for some time in leaving the Court, possibly as early as last spring or summer,” he said. “So this may have always been in the back of Gov. Snyder’s mind. It’s going to be a very thoughtful appointment, no matter who he selects.”

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