Michigan Judicial Selection Task Force Includes Reform Recommended by IAALS

June 8, 2012

In Michigan, where three of the seven seats on the state supreme court are on the ballot in November, there is much attention focused on its Judicial Selection Task Force's recent recommendations. IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis and Chief Justice Ruth McGregor (Ret. – AZ), Chair of the O'Connor Advisory Committee to the Quality Judges Initiative, testified before this group and participated in a public forum last year. The Task Force announced its recommendations in April, and they include a reform that IAALS encouraged the Task Force to consider—the use of a nominating commission to assist the governor in filling judicial vacancies between elections.

Other Task Force recommendations include stronger disclosure requirements, open primaries, and campaign oversight committees. IAALS had hoped that the Task Force would also call for moving away from judicial elections entirely and toward a full merit selection process, but it did not, despite strong support among many Task Force members. The New York Times expressed its disappointment about this development in two opinion pieces – here and here.