Daily Staff Reporter
Before assuming the state chairmanship of the Democratic Party Saturday, Detroit lawyer Melvin Butch Hollowell called for current state Attorney General Michael Cox’s resignation on Friday.
Hollowell said Cox was wrong in refusing to file an amicus brief with the University on behalf of Gov. Jennifer Granholm supporting two lawsuits before the U.S. Supeme Courtchallenging the University’s use of race in its admissions policies.
Oral arguments are expected to be heard April 1 and the deadline for the University and its supporters to file briefs is tomorrow.
At a Friday taping of the public television program, “Off the Record,” Holowell said Cox’s main duties entail the representation of the governor and the state of the Michigan. He accused Cox of fulfilling his own political agenda ahead of the governor’s wishes.
“Even if he did disagree, he has to put the interest of the state and his job before his personal interests,” Holowell said. “If he is not willing to do his job, he should resign.”
Holowell added that no previous attorney general had refused similar requests by a governor, including Granholm, who as attorney general under former Gov. John Engler filed briefs on issues while openly stating her opposition to them.
“It is appropriate and necessary for the attorney general to represent the interests of the state,” he added
But Cox spokesman Sage Eastman called Hollowell’s statement “purely political.”
He said that, since the state is not a party in either lawsuit, the attorney general has discretion on which cases he can file.
He added that Hollowell’s claim – asserting that Cox’s move was unprecedented – was wrong, since both Granholm and former Attorney General Frank Kelley, who served from 1962 to 1999, had denied governors’ requests in several cases, including a 1994 case regarding Arkansas term limits.
Kelley said yesterday he denied two such requests during his tenure. He added that while an attorney general has the right to deny the governor’s requests, it may not be reasonable.
“As a practical matter, (Cox) should not have done it,” Kelley said.
But Kelley downplayed the effects of Hollowell’s declaration on television, noting it was just a tactic to get his point across.