Republicans move to punish Michigan State Bar for opposing dark money in elections
Yesterday, Republicans in the Michigan Senate introduced Senate Bill 743 to eliminate Michigan's mandatory State Bar. Historically, all practicing Michigan lawyers must be admitted to the Bar, pay dues, and become subject to disciplinary rules and "Character and Fitness" requirements. The lawyers' dues pay to regulate the profession pursuant to rules created by the Michigan Supreme Court. Needless to say, the Bar is not a political organization, and it includes members from all walks of life, practicing many varieties of law, and husbanding many different political, social and religious persuasions. It should not be confused with the much smaller, voluntary, Michigan Association of Justice, which represents "trial lawyers" and is frequently criticized by special interest groups, particularly insurance companies.
The State Bar went on record last month in opposition to the Republican effort to protect "dark money" contributions--particularly to judicial elections. The Bar was following a public effort mounted by many, and figure-headed by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice (and Republican-appointee) Sandra Day O'Connor, to preserve the integrity of the judicial selection process. In Michigan, former Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver (also a Republican) has spearheaded this campaign.
In what is clearly an effort to punish the State Bar for speaking its collective mind regarding "dark money" special interest election contributions, these extremist Republicans beholden to special interests have retaliated by mounting an effort to eliminate the mandatory Bar. It appears that no description of the corrupting effect of special interest election contributions is too cynical or too critical, given the current state of our Republican-controlled government.