For Michigan Supreme Court watchers, yesterday's prevailing theme turned out to be the role of partisan politics on the Court. The whole Court, a number of former justices, and scores of supporters of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society turned out to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Society at a luncheon at which they heard former justice Thomas Brennan and Cooley Law School founder deliver remarks entitled "The Party's Over." He told the Society leaders that he kept the title and the contents of his remarks under wraps, sharing them only with his wife Polly. The message, in a nutshell, turned out to be "dump the partisan nomination of Supreme Court justices," a view in line with recommendation of the Judicial Selection Task Force, a nonpartisan group headed by former chief justice Marilyn Kelly and former justice and 6th circuit federal judge James Ryan, who were both in attendance.
Coincidentally, the Court yesterday issued two high-profile decisions on issues with strong partisan overtones. In both cases the decisions were unanimous. In Attorney General v. Civil Service (SC Docket No. 146616), the Court declined to hear the Attorney General's challenge to health care benefits for unrelated adults living with state workers covered by civil service. In Hammel v Speaker (SC docket No. 145916), the Court rejected the former House Democratic leader's challenge to the way in which the House majority decided immediate effect votes in the House.