MARQUETTE - Taking partisanship out of the justice system is vital to ensuring its integrity and authority, according to a Michigan Supreme Court candidate.
"I think there is a growing level of frustration with the partisanship and the politics in our appellate courts, and our Supreme Court in particular, though that's not really a critique that's unique to Michigan," said Bridget McCormack, an associate dean and law professor at the University of Michigan and candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court. "I think it has to be changed. It undermines the public confidence in the system. If folks think, 'Well, that case was decided that way just because there were X number of Republicans on the court, or X number of Democrats on the court,' then I think the court has lost its authority in a way that really costs all of us."
McCormack's comments came Wednesday during an Upper Peninsula tour that included stops in Marquette and Escanaba.
She said her 21 years of experience working as a lawyer, as well as her 16 years of experience working as a law professor, provide her with a diverse background that will serve her well as a supreme court justice.
"I not only have a scholarly sense of the work the court does, but I have an actual practical sense of what happens to folks when they show up in court and what matters, and why it's so important that we figure out a way to make sure everybody gets a fair shake in court, while using taxpayer resources efficiently," McCormack said.
With no previous experience working as a judge, McCormack said her time as a law school professor has afforded her the opportunity to better understand what the position will entail.
"The work we do at a law school, and on a law school faculty, is pretty great experience for sitting on a supreme court," McCormack said. "I think, in most ways, it's most like what a supreme court does. What we're doing in the classroom and in our scholarship is picking apart appellate decision-making."
There are three positions up for election on the court this year that will be decided in the Nov. 6 general election. The positions carry eight-year terms.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.