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Preserving the integrity of the judicial branch

November 5, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

A guest blog post from Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack

As my readers and friends know, I have strongly endorsed Bridget Mary McCormack for the Michigan Supreme Court.   Professor McCormack was also endorsed by the New York Times on November 1,  and she represents a bright hope to preserving the integrity of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Here’s a blog I have written recently about why the ads flooding our televisions from Justices Markman and Zahra saying they stand for the rule of law and for treating all people equally are so false and misleading.  In sharp contrast to what their ads say, these two justices have aggressively overturned established law in Michigan when it has allowed them to side with insurance companies over individuals.  And the claim that they treat all people equally?  Well, after the  Citizens United case said that corporations are people too and can give unlimited amounts of money to fund political – and judicial  – candidates, I guess that is technically true, since the insurance companies that these two justices have sided with 100% of the time on the bench are now considered people.

Michigan deserves better.  We deserve Bridget Mary McCormack.

Here is Professor McCormack’s guest blog post:

What is the difference, ultimately, between the judicial and legislative branch? Preserving that difference is crucial to the sound operation of our system of government. Yet, increasingly the distinct roles these branches are supposed to play is threatened by money, partisanship, and increasing acceptance of a view of appellate judges that sees them as representatives of certain interests or points of view.

As a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court on November 6, I am proud to be nominated by the Michigan Democratic Party and endorsed by many Democratic clubs and parties. At the same time, I am guided by words expressed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (nominated by a Republican), who said that the founding fathers understood that the courts are the place where fairness is supposed to trump strength, where being right should matter more than being popular or powerful.

Putting this understanding of the role of courts into practice requires genuine application of the rule of law, and not mere lip service to the rule of law. It also requires justices who do not see themselves as representatives of a political party or interest groups in the same way that those who serve in the political branches of government might legitimately represent some interests and not others.

Judicial even handedness — giving everybody a fair shake at justice — is what litigants deserve, and what the public expects of the courts. They also deserve civility, and the avoidance of raw partisanship.

Our kids are taught to look up to our courts, and to the individuals who serve on them. But respect for the judiciary should no longer be taken for granted. It must be earned, and re-earned over time. If I am fortunate enough to be able to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court, I will work tirelessly to restore public confidence in the Michigan Supreme Court and to preserve its integrity.

 – Bridget Mary McCormack is a Professor and Dean at the University of Michigan Law School, an award-winning attorney, and a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court. Information about her can be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChiefJusticeBridgetMaryMcCormack/.

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