Friday, January 02, 2009

Bye Cliff. Don't Let the Gators Bite Ya.

There were times last year when I was a bit miffed with Mark Brewer for seeming to be single-mindedly obsessed with the removal of Cliff Taylor from the Michigan Supreme Court, but this "goodbye to conservative rule" article from the AP tells me that maybe Brewer had the right idea in getting this guy gone. We all knew Taylor was a bad egg and the Court was stacked in favor of the wingnuts; a synopsis of Cliff's last days in office, his parting shot, and his plans for the future really tell the tale of the last nine years of rightwing judicial "activism", all in one piece.

Change is coming to the Court in Michigan - and that is a real good thing.

Conservatives' nine-year reign on the Michigan Supreme Court ended this week when Republican Chief Justice Clifford Taylor worked his last day, clearing the way for a more liberal judge who beat him in the November election.

Democrat Diane Hathaway's swearing-in next week likely will lead to different rulings by the high court, but it remains unknown if the shift will be sweeping or narrow. GOP justices still hold a 4-3 advantage, and the outcome in key cases will be controlled by a swing justice: Republican Elizabeth Weaver.

The thought is that Weaver will be more sympathetic to the "little guy" when it comes to taking on insurance companies and big business interests. Time will tell. For now, we can wave goodbye to this behavior-

With the change in power nearing, the court in December issued a number of decisions earlier than normal. Justices ruled in 19 of 23 cases they heard since the term began in October. Seven were 4-3 rulings with Taylor and three Republicans in the majority and Weaver and two Democrats in the minority.

Taylor, 66, acknowledges the timing of the decisions was intentional, saving litigants from having to reargue their cases and putting his stamp — not Hathaway's — on more cases.

In some of those cases, that "stamp" was to deny a rental home owner insurance coverage on fire damages, worker's comp for an employee with a busted leg, and the long-running denial of pain and suffering damages to auto accident victims. Real man of the people was 'ol Cliff.

Taylor then pulled out the standard Republican boilerplate hypocrisy when it comes to the future of the court. Make sure you accuse others of what you have done yourself...

"The court is going to be now composed of a majority of judicial activists," Taylor said.

Critics counter that conservatives have been no less activist in their determination to protect big business and insurance companies at the expense of the little guy.

... as you ride off to Monaghan's Wingnut Retirement Ranch in Florida to train future extremists on the art of how to serve only the people that share, and financially contribute to, your narrow (and now thoroughly discredited) worldview.

Taylor and his wife, Lucille — who was Engler's chief legal counsel — will become visiting professors at the Ave Maria Law School in Naples, Fla. He also may look at advising parties on appeals strategies.

Be sure and check out the Everglades, Cliff. Bet you will feel right at home with the other creatures that live by the law of the swamp. For us, it's time to bring some long-deserved legal justice to the citizens of Michigan, and not the kind that is dictated by the Chamber of Commerce only.