One of the unsung sections of this year’s ballot entails the race for Michigan’s Supreme Court. Unbeknownst to many, $10 million has been spent on television ads by the two major political parties on the Supreme Court race. The current Supreme Court is controlled 4-3 by conservative justices, so the outcome of this election will have a major effect on many state decisions, as it supervises and regulates other courts.
McCormack is a former faculty fellow at Yale Law School and the associate dean for clinical affairs at the University’s Law School. She has participated in the Law School’s clinics and formed her own, the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic and the Pediatric Health Advocacy Clinic. McCormack became the Dean for Clinical Affairs in 2002.
McCormack is a teacher of law and an advocate for justice. In an interview with Michigan Radio, she said that if elected she would “apply the law set by the political branches of government, to provide stability and promise equal treatment to all of our citizens.” McCormack is an advocate of due process of law in all cases, and even volunteered to defend a prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration.
She also told Michigan Radio that she’s “really committed to the important, independent role the court plays in our constitutional democracy.” Most importantly, however, McCormack is committed to the community and believes that the Court has a unique responsibility and function within it.
Connie Kelley, a veteran of law for 27 years, serves on the Wayne County Circuit Court. Elected to the 3rd Circuit Court in 2008, Kelley’s term has been characterized by fairness and consideration of both sides of arguments.
An Oct. 9 article in The Michigan Chronicle described Kelley as family activist who looks after the rights of children. As Kelley said during the interview, one of the justices retiring this year, Justice Marilyn Kelly, is the only justice serving the state of Michigan to have experience in family law. Kelley also serves as a mentor for young women at Cody High School in Detroit. In another interview, Kelley identified herself as someone who believes in transparency of the law: “We believe that justice should be for everybody and the justice system should be accessible to everybody.”
Two Republican opponents, Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien, and Justice Stephen Markman, have made questionable decisions as judges. O’Brien sentenced a man who raped an 11-year-old boy to one year in prison and four years of probation; this is clearly not a harsh enough sentence. Justice Markman has consistently voted conservatively in many cases. For example, in Pride at Work v. the Governor of Michigan, Markman ruled that Michigan’s gay marriage ban also bars same-sex domestic partners who are public employees from receiving health insurance benefits.
For the half-term Supreme Court position, Judge Sheila Johnson is running against Justice Brian Zahra. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and has served as the judge of 46th District Court for nine years. She has worked as both a trial judge and as a lawyer, giving her experience from both sides. Justice Zahra was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor Rick Snyder in 2011. Zahra, like Markman, voted to reject same-sex benefits.
McCormack, Kelley and Johnson have the skill to maintain jurisprudence in Michigan. Both have opposed unprecedented campaign contributions that took place in the 2010 Supreme Court elections and onward after the Citizens United case. Vote Bridget Mary McCormack, Judge Connie Kelley and Judge Sheila Johnson for Michigan Supreme Court. Kelley will provide the necessary experience with regards to family litigation, McCormack brings academic reflection to the judicial bench and Johnson brings experience from her range of careers.