Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder has thumbed his nose at the suggestion he develop a nonpartisan process in screening potential appointees to the Michigan Supreme Court.
In the wake of the scandalous resignation of Justice Diane Hathaway, the national court-watchdog group, Justice at Stake, urged the governor to set-up a nonpartisan screening commission to aid in the selection of a replacement Justice. JAS Executive Director, Bert Brandenburg put it this way:
“Gov. Rick Snyder could help bolster confidence in fair and impartial courts by taking a page from the report of a bipartisan Michigan judicial selection task force.
“The task force asked Gov. Snyder to set up a nonpartisan advisory commission when a vacancy occurs on the Michigan Supreme Court. The commission would screen candidates and recommend three to five highly qualified applicants, and the governor would appoint one. More than 30 other states have a similar process for filling interim high court vacancies.
“The task force wanted to avoid the perception that raw politics would predominate when a governor makes a vacancy appointment. It said a nonpartisan advisory commission ‘would restore the public’s confidence in the Governor’s vacancy appointments to the supreme court.’ It was a good idea when the task force report came out last April and it’s a good idea now.”
Governor Snyder announced today that he has appointed David Viviano, formerly of the 16th Circuit Court, to Michigan’s high court….and conservative Chief Justice Robert Young quickly endorsed the choice as a fine one indeed. Young said this of Viviano:
“Justice Viviano is uncommonly bright and learned in the law. But it is not his legal ability alone that makes him an outstanding jurist. He also knows that the role of judges is to interpret the laws, not to make them. He understands the deference due to the legislature as the body that expresses the will of the people through legislation. He is committed to following the rule of law wherever it leads him.”
Why should this concern Michigan residents, women in particular?
Justice Viviano is a Right-to-Life member. The campaign finance report from his most recent bid for the circuit court shows a contribution of $2,246.89 from Right-to-Life on November 4, 2006 – his sixth largest contributor in that report. A contribution that came in late, and was reported after the general election — a typical ploy of candidates that wish to hide their contributors.
Given the state of the Michigan legislature as one of the most anti-women and anti-reproductive rights in the nation, this is of grave concern.
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project