I’d like to vote against Robert Young for Michigan Supreme Court tomorrow, but the stupid and offensive ads being run against him so piss me off that I’m going to find it difficult to do so. Here’s one of the ads in question, which I was subjected to three times in a single hour, while at the gym a few days ago.
I get that folks want this guy out of the Supreme Court for legitimate reasons, and that it’s difficult to vote an incumbent out, but I hate feeling as though I’m being manipulated. And I doubly hate that the people behind this ad just assume that the label of “Urkel” is a bad thing, as though the brilliant young man in short pants would be a less than serious jurist. But, I digress. Here, with a more serious take on Young, is a clip from letter that I received this morning from Ypsi attorney John Bredell:
It is rare, if ever, that I publically campaign for any candidate in any election — however, as you are likely aware, this election is a critical turning point in Michigan jurisprudence history.
Specifically, the Gang of Four totally rewrote fifty years of law in a matter of a couple of years – Michigan became the laughing stock of American Jurisprudence.
As demonstrated by the poll taken by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, the impact of the prior Engler Court “Gang of Four” has been obvious.
Question 1: Do you generally agree that the decisions and opinions of the Michigan Supreme Court majority are the result of an agenda that is better left to the legislative branch?
Question 2: Do you generally agree that the decisions and opinions of the Michigan Supreme Court majority suggest a pattern of bias that favors insurance companies and large corporate interests over those of ordinary citizens in civil litigation matters?
Question 3: Do you generally agree that the decisions and opinions of the Michigan Supreme Court majority have resulted in a pattern of denial of the right to trial by jury in the State of Michigan?
Examples of the Gang of Four theory of law are as follows:
• Infamous Nestle Waters North America case, the court ruled that the 1970 Environmental Protection Act wording, “The attorney general or any person may” sue to protect “the air, water, and other natural resources… from pollution, impairment, or destruction,” didn’t actually mean any person. The court said only those who could prove personal harm from such pollution could sue.
• Anyone recall Kriener? Short of being killed in a car accident, a motorist could not be found to have suffered what the Gang of Four considered a “serious impairment of an important bodily function.” It became so bad as to question whether death would meet the threshold.
The bottom line is that for a period of approximately ten years an insurance company rarely, if ever, lost a case. The Gang of Four — Cliff Taylor, Robert Young, Stephen Markman and Maura Corrigan — summarily gutted consumer protection laws, watered down environmental protection laws and weakened individual rights. The doors of justice were slammed shut in the face of ordinary citizens and swung wide open for insurance companies and corporations.
On November 2, 2010, you have the opportunity to cast a vote that will support our legal system — or you can allow it to slip back into the dark ages. I am asking that you vote for Justice Tom Davis and Judge Denise Langford Morris.
Bredell then went on to add that Young, “seems to always find a way to side with big business, big money and insurance companies.” Oh, and speaking of those big insurance companies, it’s worth noting that Young was once the Vice President of AAA Insurance.
As I don’t know Bredell, though, I decided to reach out to another friend, from whom I received the following.
What I can tell you is that the supreme court elections are technically non-partisan, but the parties put up specific candidates. Morris & Davis are the Dem candidates, Kelly & Young are the Rep candidates. Young & Davis are incumbents, and get marked as such on the ballot, which is a major advantage – each party is trying to protect their incumbent while picking off the other side’s. Currently the Dems have a 4-3 majority on the court.
The best part of this, though, is the soap opera around the incumbency. The Rs had a majority until this summer, but Justice Elizabeth Weaver spent all her time fighting with the other Republicans. She was going to be out this November – she was planning to run for reelection as an independent, which means she wouldn’t have a party machine behind her. She made a deal with Granholm, instead: Weaver would resign early, allowing Granholm to make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy, on the condition that the appointment be from Northern Michigan. Granholm said, “deal!”, Weaver resigned, Granholm appointed Davis, and it just so happened that all of this happened the day before the ballot deadline – meaning that Davis, who’s been sitting for 2 months, gets to appear on the ballot as an incumbent, as if he’d been sitting for 8 years. Ta-da! The Dems suddenly pick up the incumbency boost and Weaver gets one last “fuck you” in to the party that she was bailing out of.
Ordinarily, I might be a little unhappy with this kind of game, but on the other hand, why the hell do we elect Supreme Court justices, anyways? That seems like a terrible idea, so I don’t mind having it dealt with at a higher level. Besides, I just kind of admire the balls of all involved.
Oh, and if you’d like to see your ballot, as it will appear tomorrow, click here.