Republicans not content controlling almost everything, move to control EVERYTHING, including the state Court of Claims

Drunk. With. Power.

Michigan Republicans control just about every single thing in our government structure. We have a Republican Governor. A Republican Lt. Governor. A Republican Attorney General. A Republican Secretary of State. A Republican-controlled House of Representatives. A Republican Senate. The state Supreme Court is majority Republican. Basically, at any point where there is a decision to be made or a law to be passed, you’ll find Republicans ruling the process.

There is, however, one exception. The state Court of Claims, the court where people file lawsuits against the state government or state legislators is handled by the Ingham County Circuit Court. That’s been the case for 35 years and is largely because most of the people involved in these suits live or work in Lansing.

It is also a Democratic-leaning court. And that, to Republicans who control everything else, is a bridge too far. So, to rectify this last bastion of Democratic voice in our state government, Republicans in the House and Senate are fast tracking a bill that would spread the Court of Claims around to four different courts four Court of Appeals from at least two Court of Appeals districts around the state. The judges would be hand-picked by the state Supreme Court which is dominated by Republicans.

The chief judge of Ingham County Circuit Court says she’s surprised and concerned by the speed with which bills to remove the State Court of Claims from her court are moving through the Legislature.

“It’s caught us by surprise,” Judge Janelle Lawless said of legislation that would move the Court of Claims — which hears lawsuits against the State of Michigan — out of her court to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

“We are concerned on many levels.”

Bills passed the Senate today on a 26-11 party line vote, with Republicans in the majority, one day after they were reported out of committee with a single hearing.

The bill’s Republican sponsor, Sen. Rick Jones from Grand Ledge, says it has nothing — nothing, I tell ya! — to do with politics. “This is good reform,” he said. Nothing to see here, move along.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer disagrees. Here she is in a speech dripping with derision and scorn:

I’m disgusted by what you’re pushing through today…This is a clear attempt to tamper with the power of our courts, and in turn, the power of our people. This bill is nothing more than partisan rigging and shameless political protectionism. By moving the jurisdiction of our state’s Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit Court where it stands now to a Court of Appeals hand-picked by the Supreme Court, you are unnecessarily interfering with judicial oversight and trying to shift power from judges elected by the people to judges appointed by partisans. And, more importantly, it allows the Republican majority to stack the Court of Appeals with Republican appointees and better your chances of having your questionable legislation upheld.

Plain and simple, this a political ploy designed to override the power of the people.

This bill makes it clear that rigging the system to better your game is more important to you than ensuring that the people of our state have fair access to seek legal recourse against the policies you’ve shoved down their throats over the past few years.

She’s right, of course. Republicans, drunk with their overwhelming power, are seeking to take over the one remaining place where they aren’t in control.

And for Rick Jones to say otherwise is insulting. That just takes him from being a power-hungry Republican to being a power-hungry LYING Republican.

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  • kirk

    we read it here, but we dont know what steps, if any, are being taken?

  • judyms9

    I guess the majority of voters in Michigan are content with GOP tyranny. Not sure when Michiganders lost their fighting spirit, but until a GOP legislator actually crashes through the front door and and snaps off the power to their electronic toys, it will be difficult to get the attention of voters on this matter.
    Sad, because I remember when we used to take to the streets and when we could recruit passionate and articulate candidates to beat back against those who would oppress us. It’s the sense of powerlessness that makes people hate government.

  • Joel Robert Meredith

    Are we sitting this one out, too? The GOP just gets their way when they surprise us with bs legislation?

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Sitting it out? We’re in the minority in both the Senate and the House. The “sitting out” took place on Election Day in 2010, not on this issue or any other, for that matter.

      • Joel Robert Meredith

        Yes, I understand that, actually. I meant “sitting this one out” in the sense that, as far as I know, there is no organizing going on. Perhaps we can’t stop the GOP’s legislation, but we can at least start organizing the troops for 2014. Is there any organizing going on?

        • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

          Come down to Washtenaw County and we’ll show you what on-the-ground, grassroots Dem organizing looks like. We’ve been at it since February : )

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