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Monday, October 08, 2012
Published September 8, 2011-Updated October 18,
“Reliving Marbury v. Madison at the
Michigan State Supreme Court Level”
The political implications, which were within the Marbury v. Madison
case, surrounding the question concerning how far the outgoing executive’s
political reach should be were revisited at the State of Michigan Supreme Court
level in a case brought by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuett questioning
former Governor Jennifer Granholm’s appointment of Judge Hugh Clark to the
54-A District Court. Inherent
within both of these cases is how far should the constitution allow the
executive power to extend. Pardons,
the appointment of judges, or appointment of an individual to fill a vacant seat
in the legislature are the clearest signs of a president or governor’s power
that remains after he/she has left office.
There is a subtle common fear of this power based on the fact that the
executive’s ideas continue to flourish and shape the political landscape of
the country after he/she has left office. This
makes it somewhat difficult for the incoming administration to invoke political
change. So the incoming executive
uses the court as a means to meet his/her end of limiting the reach of the
previous executive’s power.
In the Marbury v. Madison case, William Marbury argued that outgoing
President John Quincy Adams’s appointment of him as a judge took precedent
over President Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State, James Madison, not
delivering Marbury’s signed appointment papers to Congress.
Justice John Marshall, who was the Secretary of State under President
John Quincy Adams, ruled in favor of Secretary of State James Madison.
Justice Marshall argued that William Marbury could not take his post
because his appointment was unconstitutional.
According to Justice Marshall, Congress and President Adams usurped the
constitution when they created the extra judgeships in order to fill the bench
with Federalist judges.
It was no secret that during President Thomas Jefferson’s time he was no fan
of the Federalist. Jefferson was a Republican who believed in limited
government, while Adams was a Federalist who believed in big government.
President Adams went so far as to limit the Republicans’ power by
passing the Alien and Sedation Acts of 1798 which made it a crime to
speak against the government. After Thomas Jefferson succeeded John Quincy Adams as
president, Jefferson and the Republicans were able to get their revenge by
limiting former President John Quincy Adams’s executive reach beyond his term.
Jefferson successfully limited the reach of President Adams’s political
power by using the court to prevent President Adams’s appointment of a
Federalist judge, William Marbury.
the Marbury v. Madison case, political implications seem to spearhead
Attorney General Schuett’s argument questioning the legality of the previous
executive’s decision. The
attorney general and Governor Rick Snyder are Republicans, while Judge Clark and
the former Governor Jennifer Granholm are Democrats.
Based on the different party affiliations, one would believe that the
attorney general was motivated by his assume comfort with someone who was a
member of his party and shared his ideas on interpreting the law.
In order to further suppress the former governor’s democratic views,
the attorney general used the courts to question if the state’s constitution
makes the new administration duty bound to honor the previous executive’s
decision concerning judicial appointments.
Attorney General Schuett argued that former Governor Jennifer
Granholm’s appointment of Judge Clark to the 54-A District Court was
unconstitutional because it ended the day the former governor left office on
January 1, 2011. Governor Granholm
appointed Judge Clark to fill the court’s vacancy after Judge Amy Krause was
appointed to fill a vacancy on the court of appeals.
Judge Krause resigned on December 13, 2010 and Judge Clark was appointed
December 20, 2010. His appointment took effect on December 22, 2010.
attorney general believes the only way Judge Clark could remain on the bench is
if Governor Rick Snyder extended the appointment.
In order to prove the validity of his argument, Attorney General Schuett
cited the Attorney General v. Riley (1983) case.
Governor Milliken appointed Justice Dorothy Cornstock Riley to the bench
after Justice Blair Moody died during the same year he was elected.
Governor James Blanchard’s administration argued that Justice Dorothy
Cornstock Riley could not remain on the court bench beyond Governor Milliken’s
term, which ended on January 1, 1983. The
Michigan Supreme Court stated that they understood why the attorney general
would cite the case, however, the case did not apply to this situation.
justices pointed to four points. First,
the constitution grants the governor the power to fill a judicial vacancy.
The appointee shall relinquish the office if he is not voted into that
position after the results of the first general election held, after his
appointment, are tallied. The Michigan Constitution defines a general election as that
occurring during an even year during the month of November. Hence, if another person is voted into the position then
Judge Clark will relinquish the office at 12 noon on January 1, 2013.
Therefore, the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the attorney general’s
case and ruled in favor of Judge Hugh Clark and allowed him to assume office.
personal is political is a statement politicians know very well. It points to how even though some may try to separate their
personal views from their political views, they find that the two are
inseparable. Often, the personal
reveals the political to lady liberty by removing lady liberty’s blindfold of
justice from her eyes. Just as
Thomas Jefferson could not place aside his personal views about John Quincy
Adams’s attempt to silence any one who did not agree with the Federalist
agenda, Attorney General Schuett could not place aside his personal views about
the Democratic Party and their representation on the bench.
Judge Clark’s appointment represented the old guard and an impasse to
the Republican Party’s doctrine. In
order to remove the impasse, Attorney General Schuett did like Thomas Jefferson
and took his case to lady justice. It’s
just that in the attorney general’s case, lady justice decided she would keep
on her blindfold for the day.