The surprise resignation of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver and the simultaneous appointment of Alton Davis by Gov. Jennifer Granholm is the result of cynical maneuvering by the justice and governor.
Weaver herself made it clear that her resignation, handing an appointment to Granholm, was contingent on Weaver essentially naming her own successor. Granholm cheerfully complied. So a Supreme Court justice who has long railed about the ''unchecked power'' of governors to name judges to courts to fill vacancies was reliant on the unchecked power of the governor to fill a vacancy that Weaver created with her resignation. The maneuvering began before June, according to Weaver.
The appointment of Davis turns what was in effect a Democratic majority on the court - Weaver was a disaffected Republican who often voted with Democrats - into a solid Democratic majority. The fact that the high court will have the final say on legislative redistricting following this year's census created a strong incentive to secure the court majority.
Davis, of Grayling, will now run as an incumbent on the court, with an incumbency designation on the ballot - which is a significant advantage and difficult for challengers to overcome. (Justice Diane Hathaway's 2008 defeat of incumbent Cliff Taylor was a rare exception, made possible by the overwhelming electoral success of President Barack Obama, a series of robocalls identifying Hathaway as part of the Democratic slate and a vicious TV ad against Taylor that has been called a smear.)
Granholm's spokeswoman said that Weaver, of Glen Arbor, felt geographical representation of northern Michigan was important on the court and ''the governor happens to agree with her.'' This enthusiasm by the governor for northern Michigan representation was not evidenced in the party's 2004 and 2008 non-incumbent nominees for the high court, both of whom were Wayne Circuit judges.
In the run-up to this year's Supreme Court election, there have been calls for reform of the process by which they are selected. One of those suggestions is that the justices be appointed. ...
The deal is done - for now. But voters still have a say on who will be on the high court in November.
The Detroit News