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.