I'm not going to get into the liberal v conservative ideology when it comes to the Michigan Supreme Court races. The justices and candidates are who they are. I'm not going to change too many minds on justices with ideological arguments. I am going to argue about experience. Most decisions aren't even ideological. Those decisions are the ones which make the news. Most decisions are procedural. In order to really understand procedures to the level a Supreme Court Justice should understand them, one should have judicial experience.
We have three major Supreme Court races this year in Michigan. One is open seat. Justice Marilyn Kelly is retiring. One of the other seats is held by an incumbent, Justice Stephen Markman. The other is a quasi-incumbent in longtime judge Brian Zahra. Zahra was appointed by Rick Snyder to replace Justice Maura Corrigan, who stepped down to head Michigan Department of Community Health.
The dems are nominating three people for SCOTUS this year. One of them has never held any judicial position. Bridget Mary McCormack. So far she's had the most active campaign on the dem side. She's running for the open seat. Her top qualification is that she has an Irish sounding name. That ain't nice, but I'm sure that was a reason for the nomination. She's the dean of clinical affairs at UM Law School. She's also tied to the Michigan Innocence Project, which is something which really does gain a lot of respect from me, because I don't think enough is done with wrongful convictions. That's the main reason I oppose the death penalty. I think McCormack should be commended for that work. Clinics are important, helpful, and do a lot for society. We're not electing a statewide clinic coordinator. This doesn't qualify her to be a Supreme Court Justice. Her judicial experience is zero.
Compare the others. Incumbents.
Markman - Formerly on Appeals Court. Assistant US AG, Federal Prosecutor, Private practice.
Zahra - Formerly Appeals and Circuit Judge (at least 15 years), private practice.
Open Seat - Either:
Colleen O'Brien (whom I support) - 14 years judicial experience, private practice.
Jane Markey - 22 years judicial experience, private practice. While I support O'Brien, Markey would not be a bad pick.
There's no comparison. A Judge's job is to be the umpire, calling balls and strikes. The strike zone should be fair, and the merits of the case and proper procedure work should decide the cases. Justices of the Supreme Court should be the best of the best. Experience matters. Because I know a bit about Campaign Finance Laws, it doesn't mean I'm qualified to be Dean of the Political Science Department at Michigan State. My main experience is in a narrow field. I'm very good in that field. That doesn't mean I'm ready to take over the entire department at the best school in the state. More importantly, I don't have any teaching experience. That's important. That's what the dems are expecting us to accept with McCormack. Does she have the grasp of rules, procedures - in ALL aspects of law, evidential hearings, probate matters, contracts, and other, especially non criminal law related fields? What's the learning curve going to be?
For Michigan's Supreme Court, we don't need a major learning curve. We have two candidates running on the Republican side who both have judicial experience. Trial Court experience. If McCormack wants to be a judge, she should start with Washtenaw County District or Circuit Court, not the highest court in the land.