Thursday, January 6, 2011

Black justice leads Michigan Supreme Court

Robert Young Jr. was chosen chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The event passed without much fanfare despite the fact that Young is black and the only black justice on Michigan's top court, and he is the highest elected black official in Michigan.

Young is the second black chief justice in Michigan. Conrad Mallet Jr. was elected chief justice in 1997.

It should also be noted that Young was reelected in November despite a smear campaign waged by former Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver who claimed, in her speeches against his re-election, that she had secretly (and apparently illegally) recorded a 2006 conference call between the justices where Young had used the "N" word.

After the election, the court sent her a letter of rebuke because the Supreme Court conference discussions are supposed to be private. As far as I know, no one pursued the illegality of the recording -- in Michigan a conviction carries jail time and fine for illegally eavesdropping and recording a conversation prior to gaining the consent of all parties in a communication.

Regardless of the legality or appropriateness of the secret recording, what she alleged is ironic at best.

I blogged at the time that probably the only people who can get away with using ethnic slurs are members of the minority that is being slurred. I also found it surprising that a white member of the court should be lecturing a black member on the appropriate use of this word.

Weaver -- who had long running disputes with various justices on the court, including Young -- resigned from the court in the summer of 2010. The timing of her resignation allowed outgoing Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to appoint Alton Davis, a Democrat, to replace her and tip the balance of the court in favor of the Democrats 4-3. That balance for the Democrats lasted less than four months, however, because voters did re-elect Young and also elected Republican Mary Beth Kelly in November. The majority is now back to Republicans.


Blogger Dave Lambert said...

Actually, Conrad Mallett, Jr. was the first.

January 6, 2011 at 10:43 AM 

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