DETROIT — Michigan’s Supreme Court is often a politically motivated “tyrannical body” and how justices are elected must be dramatically reformed according to a new seven-step plan on court reform, authored by a former justice whose rare “behind the curtain” book on the high court will be released May 15.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Weaver, who resigned from the court in 2010 after almost 16 years of service — including two years as Chief Justice — says she has written a detailed plan to overhaul the election process for justices in a forthcoming book that is highly critical of the “deceit, tyranny and unnecessary secrecy” of the court.
“I feel a compelling duty to the people of Michigan to cast a bright light on the workings of the court, the millions in ‘dark money’ used for campaigns, and the partisanship that can and often does trump justice,” said Weaver. “I could easily have retired to my home in Northern Michigan but I chose to spend the past two years writing the book and, most importantly, a primer called: A Seven-Point-Plan for Michigan Supreme Court Reform.”
“The time is now to fix the serious flaws in the election process for justices that are at the core of corrupt practices that inject dark money into the process, partisanship, and secrecy,” said Weaver. “Justice should be blind but blinders should not be placed on the people of Michigan, nor should millions in campaign funds be used to buy outcomes for influential parties. We need transparency and immediate reform.”
Weaver, who co-authored the book titled: Judicial Deceit, Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court with David B. Schock, a writer, filmmaker, former reporter, editor and college professor, says she expects the book will be controversial. Peninsula Press publishes the 750-page book including photos and illustrations.
“The book is important because it sheds light on bullying tactics, legal precedence changes because of political party or public pressure, and exposes a secret club that has substantial impact on people’s lives,” said Weaver. “The seven point plan is far more important because it could be a road map for the future of a court that is transparent and motivated only by serving justice.”
“Reform the campaign money process,” Weaver adds. “Instant, complete, reporting of all campaign contributions to eliminate hiding behind politically affiliated groups such as People for Justice. Every contribution has to be individual, and it cannot be from unidentifiable parties — that’s dark money.”
Weaver’s tenure on the court from 1994 to 2010 was stormy at times, she concedes. As an advocate for more transparency, campaign reform, and candor on the court she clashed with her colleagues. Five of her fellow justices attempted to censure Weaver, a Republican, for secretly recording a 2006 internal discussion in which she participated by telephone. She also released a transcript in which a fellow colleague, Justice Robert Young Jr., the court’s chief judge, purportedly used a racial slur. Young is African American.