Yesterday brought two editorials on the recommendations of Michigan's Judicial Selection Task Force report. Way over on the East Coast, the New York Times likes the recommendation on disclosure of campaign contributions but wishes the Task Force had endorsed a merit selection process rather than a reformed election process:
The task force has recommended legislation to require all financing for campaign ads in Supreme Court races be disclosed and that the partisan nominating process be replaced by a nonpartisan system with open primaries. Regrettably, it did not reach consensus on having an independent commission nominate justices based on merit. That would have been the best way to end the profoundly harmful effect money has had on the Michigan court.
Meanwhile, the Detroit News editorial also likes the disclosure recommendation (and a few others), but in contrast to the NYT editorial takes the task force to task for recommending merit selection -- a recommendation that the task force did not, in fact, make:
The most controversial recommendation from a majority of task force members is that justices of the state Supreme Court be selected by a bipartisan commission and placed on the court by the governor rather than run for election. That's a nonstarter. The people of Michigan have repeatedly expressed their preference for electing justices.
The public's assumed preference for electing justices, coincidentally, is exactly why a majority of the Task Force members opted not to recommend merit selection and instead to urge the Governor to use a nominating commission when making appointments to fill judicial vacancies. Under Michigan's constitution, judges are appointed to fill vacancies only until the next general election, at which time the seat is filled by the regular election process. The Task Force recommendations do not advocate a change in that process.