Michigan's judicial campaigns become laughingstock nationally
A recent national study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and the National Institute on Money in State Politics gave Michigan's judiciary yet another black eye. It pointed out that Michigan ranks third among states in money spent on TV ads for supreme court candidates during the past decade. At least 11 million dollars could be accounted for publicly. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce was the nation's fifth-biggest spender on state supreme court campaigns, having contributed $3 million dollars in identifiable direct contributions.
The Chamber publicly contributed $1.7 million dollars to a single candidate in the last judicial election and pledges to provide similar support to Justice Young (an Engler appointee) in 2010. The last supreme court election in Michigan was the third most expensive in the nation's history. Researchers claimed that the report actually undercounts spending. In a previous study conducted by a prominent university in Illinois, Michigan's judiciary was found to be the most partisan and politically-influenced court system in the country. In a 2008 visit to Michigan, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lamented the influence of special interests in state courts and called for reforms in the highly partisan manner in which state supreme court justices are nominated and elected.