Supreme Court recusal over spouse’s interest again at issue

Last February, Congressional Democrats sought to have U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from the inevitable challenge of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2008. While Thomas himself had no history with the bill, his wife, Ginny, is a lobbyist that represents groups trying to overturn the controversial health care reform package.

So, the Dems argue, the Thomas family is profiting handsomely from opponents of the law, therefore, Justice Thomas should recuse himself.

A similar situation has developed here in Michigan in the challenge over the constitutionality of Gov. Snyder’s emergency financial manger bill.

The new law is being challenged in the Michigan Supreme Court. Opponents of the law have moved for the recusal of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Markman because his wife is defending the law in a federal suit. [The Detroit News].

Markman’s wife, Kathleen, who works for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, is one of two lawyers representing state officials in a federal lawsuit in which a city of Detroit pension fund alleges the emergency manager law is unconstitutional.

A recusal by Markman would be significant because it would erase the 4-3 majority on the court held by justices nominated by the Michigan Republican Party.

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SCOTUS backs state in Kent County jury case

From Lawyers USA:

In a ruling that could make it tougher for minority defendants to challenge convictions by all-white juries, the Supreme Court today in Berghuis v. Smith reversed a 6th Circuit ruling that a Michigan jury selection system — which the defendant claimed drained black jurors from the pool before criminal juries could be selected — did not violate the Sixth Amendment.

Delivering the unanimous opinion for the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the 6th Circuit should not have disturbed a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the defendant failed to show a constitutional violation.

“Warranting heavy weight, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a cogent decision, had held that Smith’s evidence failed to prove ‘systematic exclusion’” of black jurors, Ginsburg said today from the bench in announcing the decision. “[A]s that determination was not at all unreasonable, the 6th Circuit had no warrant to disturb it.”