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Cast of West Wing shows you how to fill out the Michigan ballot for Michigan Supreme Court

October 2, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Election is Nov. 6, don’t forget to vote the bottom of the ballot

Here’s a clever and funny campaign video featuring the cast of the West Wing, reuniting to teach Michigan voters how to fill out the ballot on Nov. 6, and addressing the importance of the Michigan Supreme Court election.

Walk and Talk the Vote – West Wing reunion – Bridget Mary McCormack

Why is the Michigan Supreme Court election so important?

When most people vote on Nov. 6, they’ve already made up their minds for president.  But judges and the Supreme Court are a different matter.

Most voters either don’t  really know anything about the judges, or even if they do, many never vote because of a quirk in the Michigan electoral ballot where straight party ticket votes do not count for judges at the bottom of the ballot.

Of course, judges affect our most basic rights. On Nov. 6, three candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court will be on the ballot.  These three seats  are the most important and powerful judicial elected officials in our state.

As Michigan lawyers, law professors, and judges have watched for over 15 years now, the highest court in the state can change or reverse laws that have existed for decades.  And they can take away your rights if you’ve been seriously injured in an auto accident.

This smart and funny video also addresses a second problem. Many people in Michigan fill out their ballots incorrectly, and thus never vote for the Michigan Supreme Court, even when they leave the polls thinking they did.

The West Wing cast refers to this error as a “crisis, calamity, catastrophe, and an apocalypse”:  “People aren’t voting. In nonpartisan elections all across America, voters are leaving parts of their ballots blank – and they don’t even know it.”

How to vote correctly

What happens is people vote the straight party ticket box and think that they have voted for everything. But they are leaving important officials out.

But voters must address the non partisan section of the ballot, where you can vote for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Voting straight ticket is not enough. You have to go all the way down the ballot and fill out the nonpartisan section as well.

Who should I vote for on the Michigan Supreme Court?

The current Republican majority of the court has ruled against auto accident victims and for insurers nearly 100% of the time. They have voted in an overtly politically partisan manner to reach certain results.  They have dropped any pretense of judicial restraint and textualism when it has served their purposes and allowed them to reach the outcome that they want.

The best evidence is to read decisions like Kriener v. Fischer, with its judge-made additional hurdles to recoveries for auto accident victims and severe hurdles to recovery for innocent people, such as the Kreiner physician-imposed restrictions and course or trajectory language that was found nowhere in the statutory definition of serious impairment of body function.  Kreiner, Cameron, and dozens of other rulings that law professors and jurists will be shaking their heads over for years  are examples of politics trumping precedent. These three current Republican justices simply do not represent civil justice for ordinary people  in Michigan.  If you’re an insurance company, then life is indeed good. Not so for the rest of us.

But there are three candidates who will take this court in a new direction: Judge Connie Marie Kelley, Judge Sheila Johnson and Bridget Mary McCormack.

These candidates are focused on protecting the rights of auto accident victims, families and people who have been seriously wronged by big business and corporations  that afterwards refuse to be held accountable for their harms.

By the way, the West Wing cast is especially fond of Bridget Mary McCormack.  We think she’s pretty great, too.

Your vote counts.

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