Thursday, August 21, 2008




by Terry Bankert 08/21/2008 , ,
full article with citations posted, ,
Summary for discussion at Flint Talk thread Good Morning Flint:
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REFLECTIONS: Judicial activism is alive and well in the conservative Michigan High Court. What Michigan needs is progressive/liberal judges in Michigan two high courts. To do so we must begin to cultivate activist lawyers around the state to run for judicial office and create a viable farm team of candidate for the party’s highest Convention nominees for these offices. Michigan voters lost a great opportunity to make Michigan a better place to live. But was accomplished was a state wide coalition in support of the 34 mandates included in the Convention amendment proposal. The status quo may feel victorious but the battle has only begun I have found in this issue how courageous and progressive Mark Brewer is..WHO EVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PUTS UP TO CHALLENGE THE HIGH COURT IN NOVEMBER MUST BE COMMITTED TO CHANGE AND VOCAL ON THIS ISSUE[trb]

A three judge panel decided late Wednesday that a proposal...Reform Michigan Government Now).... of that magnitude needs to be submitted to a constitutional convention first and then to citizens for approval.[3]

ACTIVIST CONSERVATIVE COURT STOPS THE PEOPLES INITIATIVE Regardless of how we all feel about RMGN, we've got to admit that this decision is unprecedented and is an example of an activist court, something conservatives often complain about when it doesn't favor them. [7 in comment]

MICHIGAN NEEDS ACTIVE VOCAL PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES FOR ALL COURTS In Michigan we must develop a group of democratic lawyer who stand ready to run for the court at all levels. Lawyers with a local base and earned state name identification will benefit the party and the voter by breaking the current conservative block. I am looking for loud and proud candidates this fall. Reform thwarted from the outside must now come from the inside of the court. Count me in for this battle.[trb]

MICHIGAN REFORMS STOPPED BY REPUBLICAN JUDGES..HOW DO WE STOP THIS NEXT TIME A sweeping proposal led by Michigan Democrats and labor unions to rewrite much of the Michigan Constitution appears dead after a court ruling Wednesday.[1] Our constitution sets NO LIMITS as to how much of it may be changed through a petition initiative. The Court of Appeals ignored our constitution, and made defacto amendments themselves without a vote of the people. We all lost in that decision. The status quo has won. Its a very sad day for Michigan.[7 IN COMMENT]

HERE IS WHAT YOU LOST YESTERDAY Pay for lawmakers, legislators and other elected officials including the governor would be cut under the proposal. The size of the state Legislature would shrink, and a commission would be set up to establish new boundaries for House and Senate districts. State courts couldn't review the districts.[2] RMGN's proposal includes: Reducing the salaries of all legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state by 25 percent, as well as reducing the salaries of justices and judges by 15 percent. [5] Limiting retirement benefits for all those elected officials to no more than what retired state employees receive. [5] Requiring all legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and justices and judges to disclose their incomes, assets, as well as the incomes as assets of their spouses. [5] Banning all legislators and top government officials from lobbying for two years after they leave office. [5] RMGN! ..( Reform Michigan Government Now).. actually had some good ideas — automatic absentee voting and shrinking the Legislature among them —[3]

PROTECTED PERKS FROM A .... Dianne Byrum, a spokeswoman for the Reform Michigan Government Now proposal, said her group will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court in an effort to get on the ballot.[2] "This is a travesty of justice," Byrum said of the court of appeals ruling. "The judges have shown they will do anything to protect the status quo and their perks."[2]

WE HAVE A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF WHY JUDICIAL REFORM IS NEEDED A unanimous three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals said the proposal for the November ballot was an illegal attempt to enact a general revision of the state constitution.[1]

WE ARE IN DESPERATE TIMES, SOME ARE UNRESPONSIVE The number and scope of the proposed changes contained in the Reform Michigan Government Now! plan are "overarching" and unprecedented in Michigan's long history, the court found. In all likelihood, the ruling ends the campaign's chance to put the proposal before voters Nov. 4.[1]

STATE DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR VOTERS THWARTED BY REPUBLICANS The reform proposal sought changes in much of Michigan's government and political structure. Among other things, it called for cutting pay for elected officials, reducing the size of the Legislature and appellate judiciary and creating an ostensibly nonpartisan entity to draw legislative district lines.[1] No Democrats would have been among the nine judges, including two Supreme Court justices, to lose their jobs.[1]

THE THOUSANDS OF HOURS WASTED. The court ordered a state elections panel scheduled to meet today to deny certification for petition signatures the reform group submitted that would have qualified it for the ballot.[1] "The voters have spoken loud and clear – with nearly 500,000 signatures and 70 percent approval ratings, voters strongly support this proposal," said Brewer. "The voters are also very clear that Taylor and his colleagues should not obstruct their right to vote on this proposal."[5]

BRYRUM, designer OF THWARTED PLAN WILL APPEAL Reform Michigan Government Now! spokeswoman Dianne Byrum called the decision a "travesty of justice" by judges who "have shown they will do anything to protect the status quo and their perks." The decision will be appealed, she said.[1]

THE USUAL SUSPECTS STICK TOGETHER Robert LaBrant, vice president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and organizer of reform opponents, said the court correctly found the proposal was not an amendment but a write of the constitution.[1] The opposition group includes the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which has strongly supported Republican justices on the Michigan Supreme Court.[2]

DEMOCRATS HAVE CREATED A BROAD BASED COALITION TO CHANGE 34 ISSUES The opposition group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution estimated the proposal would create 34 constitutional mandates, adding 7,000 words to the existing document and affecting sections containing another 19,000.[1]

BEST LAID PLANS OF DONKEYS AND COMMON VOTERS LaBrant said it was a transparent attempt by top state Democrats to sell voters a wish list of partisan changes, with the populist appeal of pay cuts and reducing government.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ; SPOKESPERSON FOR THE APPELLATE COURT? "If they wanted to do this legally, they could have come up with eight different proposed amendments," LaBrant said. But state Democratic Party Chairman "Mark Brewer held a constitutional convention in his basement instead and came up with this."[1]

415,00 MICHIGAN VOTERS DENIED The proposal was widely reported to have been the brainchild of Brewer and top officials in state labor unions. But they never acknowledged authorship, and Byrum declined to discuss who wrote the plan or paid for the $1.5-million campaign to collect signatures.[1] State elections officials estimated the group collected about 415,000 valid signatures, enough to qualify for the ballot absent the court order.[1] The judges who participated in Wednesday's decision, Chief Judge William Whitbeck and Judges Patrick Meter and Bill Schuette, said they expressed no opinion about whether any of the proposed changes were good or bad.[1] Their decision was aimed only at the issue of whether the proposal met constitutional standards for an amendment, the court said.[1] "The people deserve to vote on this proposal that downsizes and streamlines government," said Brewer. "Any attempt by Taylor to selfishly block this proposal from the ballot would be a case of him unethically putting his personal interests ahead of the rights of voters. The voters will hold him accountable for that unethical conduct this fall."[5] And they decided it did not.[1] There is talk that the RMGN folks may appeal to the federal courts, based largely on the argument that all Michigan judges should be recluse from ruling on RMGN since it cuts there pay and may end their jobs. In other words, this was the opening battle, not the end of the war.[6] Conventional wisdom is that the Supreme Court will decline to hear an appeal thus letting Cliff Taylor off the hook. [7] The ruling would appear to create a precedent that would prevent future multi-section amendments to the Michigan Constitution through ballot measures. [7] Now stayed tuned for the inter-party and intra-party ramifications of the ruling and whether the story plays outside of Lansing.[7]


-E- Posted Posted here by Terry Bankert 8/21/08

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[TRB] Comments of Terry Bankert to include unattributed cap headlines

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