Activists On Michigan Supreme Court
August 18, 2009
Once again, it matters who sits on a state’s Supreme Court.
This AP story (printed in the Chicago Tribune) notes that Michigan drivers will have to pay about $20 extra this year just to pay for a recent decision of the Michigan Supreme Court.
As the story notes,
The court last month voted 4-3 to force the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to fully reimburse insurance companies for two brain-damaged men’s round-the-clock nursing care.
The association of no-fault insurers, which was created in 1978 to spread unlimited medical and rehabilitation expenses for severely injured crash victims among all motorists, compensates insurers once claims exceed $460,000.
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Republican Justice Robert Young Jr. and two other GOP dissenters called the ruling “an expensive mistake for which every policyholder in Michigan will pay.” The MCCA said it raised the yearly assessment on motorists from $104 to $124 in anticipation of the decision — a 19 percent increase instead of what would have been a 4 percent jump to $109.
So what does this have to do with judicial elections?
As writer David Eggert noted, “The decision is an example of the importance of last November’s state Supreme Court election, when Democrat Diane Hathaway unseated Republican incumbent Clifford Taylor. Two days before leaving the bench, Taylor joined in a 4-3 ruling in favor of the MCCA. When Hathaway took over, the court reconsidered the case and ruled the other way.” In the minds of many of us here, Hathaway’s election marked a victory for judicial activists.
But the basic point is that it matters who sits on a state’s Supreme Court. And that’s why the people, rather than the trial lawyers, should get to decide who does.