Imagine, news of the book broke in the Traverse City Record-Eagle April 28; then, less then a week later, Justice Weaver and I were in Detroit at the Athletic Club for the 25th anniversary luncheon of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. That group had ben started by Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley and her husband Wallace Riley.
Justice Riley has been gone more than a decade and Mr. Riley has kept faith with his involvement of helping to preserve the history of the court. He opened the meeting and then turned over the microphone to Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. Chief Justice Young introduced all the present and past justices with a special flair he has…first the sitting justices and then the former justices, one by one. “Justice Charles Levin…Justice Cliff Taylor…Justice…Justice…. Oh, and Betty Weaver is here.” His churlishness was hard to miss.
Mr. Justice Young seems very angry with Justice Weaver for several reasons, not the least of which is this book. He does not look good in it; make no mistake.
After the exercised Mr. Young left the rostrum, there were plaudits for Mr. Riley, and then a brief and brilliant speech by Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan (retired), the youngest chief justice ever in this state. He left the court to found Cooley Law School. The title of his talk was “The Party’s Over.” He hit Justice Weaver’s first reform point: get the political parties out of the nomination process for the nonpartisan Supreme Court Justice candidates. Brennan has advocated for more than 40 years that the candidates get on the ballot the same way local and Court of Appeals judges do: through petition. I’m going to try to get the text of that speech.
Chief Justice Brennan is in his early 80s. He’s seen and heard just about everything there is to see and hear when it comes to the courts. He is probably one of the best minds ever to grace the court, independent, integral, courteous, prepared. It was an honor to both hear him and to give him a standing ovation.
…Not that everyone likes his ideas. Word has it that Chief Justice Cliff Taylor (voted off the court in 2008) was chewing nails and spitting bullets about it.
While in Detroit he were able to speak with reporters for several outlets, Crain’s Business and Ross Jones of WXYZ TV. Then on Friday we were able to speak with Chad Livengood of the Detroit News. Here’s his report. It’s a good, solid account of some of our conversation. There might be more, but we’ll have to wait to see.