Tuesday, March 8, 2011

HITTING THE ROAD (Number 17)

Cooler heads would surely have deemed my effort a fool’s mission.

Truthfully, I did not really expect to be able to persuade the Supreme Court to do yet another turn around and seat Dorothy Riley.

Even Chuck Levin, perhaps especially Chuck Levin, would not be inclined to revisit the decision to oust Dorothy.

But at this point that did not matter so much as the damage the court had done to itself because of its departure from proper procedure.

It was perhaps overly sanguine, but I really thought that getting the court to revisit their decision and do it over again, even if it meant the same result, was within the realm of possibility.

In any case, the bizarre process would be, or ought to be of great interest to law students.

So I arranged to meet with students at all five of the law schools in Michigan.

At each school, I invited the media to attend.

In order to emphasize the remarkable failure of all the lawyers in the case to consider Article 6, Section 4 of the state constitution, I had lapel stickers printer, which announced in large bold letters, THE SUPREME COURT DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER TO REMOVE A JUDGE.

A few of the students did try to challenge me.

Their primary argument was based on the same thought process displayed by the news media. If all those high priced lawyers and all those esteemed judges didn’t think the constitution prohibited the court from removing Justice Riley, how could I say otherwise?

I, of course, returned the challenge. If the words don’t mean what they say, what do they mean?

The tour of law schools ended at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing.

I billed it as a debate between myself and my old friend Frank Kelley, who, incidentally, was a part time member of the Cooley faculty.

Frank declined to show up. I knew he would. I had the maintenance staff dig up a Styrofoam bust from the store room and I topped it with a grey British solicitor’s wig and set it on the speakers table next to me.

Using my most resonant stentorian voice, I played the role of Frank Kelley trying to answer my questions. The faculty, students, newsmen and TV folk enjoyed the show.

How many people came to share my indignation over the Supreme Court’s lapse of propriety is questionable.

Admittedly, I was getting publicity. But it troubled me that the news stories used phrases like, “Brennan, who was a Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, claims that the constitution prohibits the court form removing a judge.”

The implication, of course, was that I was motivated by partisanship. Also, that what the constitution actually said was subject to differences of opinion.

I turned my attention to the State bar of Michigan. At the time, I was a member of the governing Board of Commissioners. I raised the issue with the Board and asked the bar to pass a resolution urging the Court to revisit the Riley case.

Only 15 of the 26 commissioners showed up for the meeting. Nine of them voted against taking any action.

The dominant argument against my motion was that criticizing the Court would do no good. They had done what they had done, and weren’t about to back down.

On February 23, I wrote a letter to the justices, in which I urged them to reopen the case and consider Article 6 Section 4.

The clerk replied promptly, advising me that the case was, or might be still pending, and that the justices would not accept any communication from me.

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