Budget updates, MI Supreme Court, motorcade invasions, self-managed abortions, and Chris Smith on restoring SCOTUS

September 23, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, September 23, 2019

  In this episode:

  • Michigan budget updates
  • Gary Peters, Elissa Slotkin, Dan Kildee vs Trump
  • Michigan Republicans on Mackinac Island
  • Reproductive health – abortions are down, thanks to ACA and contraceptives
  • Interview: Dr Chris Smith on restoring the Supreme Court
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Michigan budget updates



More 'act now think later' from @MISenate on #MIBudget - cut felony housing reimbursement to jails in #SanctuaryCities despite @MichiganDOC concerns re: logistics and costs of transfers to state prisons. @SenTomBarrett says they'll 'explore' that later. Click To Tweet
'We're asking schools and teachers to do more with less. We continue to fall behind and costs continue to go up.' ~@JeffMIrwin via @freep http://bit.ly/2mvlnOL #K12Click To Tweet
The #GOP proposed road funding in the #mibudget sounds like a lot of money but it's only enough to fix four bridges. We need a serious plan, not more republican posturing. #FTDRClick To Tweet

“Every one of us has benefitted from organized labor in this state,” said Whitmer. “Anyone who’s got the weekend off, or who works 40 hours a week, or has got benefits, time with their family, we’ve benefitted.” ~GovWhitmer via mlive


Gary Peters, Elissa Slotkin, Dan Kildee vs Trump

You should not be mixing govt. business with a personal gain of govt. officials. ... taxpayer money should not be used to line the pockets of a President or any other high government official' ~ @GaryPetersClick To Tweet






Most people right now are coming through the ports of entry .. they're coming right through our borders and our organizations are completely overwhelmed by that. Let's focus on the real concerns and address and pay for that ~ @ElissaSlotkin #immigrationClick To Tweet


Michigan Republicans on Mackinac Island

'My big concern is how the court has shifted away from the strong rule of law court it was under Engler ... I'd like to see it return to that type of court.' ~ @SchuetteOnDuty thinking about running for @MISupremeCourt @Ingrid_Jacques @DetroitNews http://bit.ly/2kWyWGrClick To Tweet
'For the first time in anyone's memory, the @grandhotelmi nearly 400 rooms weren't fully booked by ( @MIGOP ) conference attendees' ~@Ingrid_Jacques @detroitnews http://bit.ly/2mgsIBzClick To Tweet


The U.S. Secret Service had an automobile smuggled onto Mackinac Island when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975 — but the car was kept hidden and was never used, says a former longtime Mackinac Island official. … the Secret Service insisted that a vehicle be quietly brought to the island, so it would be available in case of an emergency. … “It came over at night, and was moved very, very quickly in the dead of night to a state park garage,” said Cawthorne, a former Republican state representative who could not recall what type of automobile was brought over by ferry. ~Detroit Free Press

'The @MISupremeCourt does not have specific rules for recusal. @SchuetteOnDuty could find himself in conflict of interest frequently, and I doubt that he would recuse himself voluntarily' ~AKH on lawsuits involving Schuette going before the court Click To Tweet






Reproductive health – abortions are down, thanks to ACA and contraceptives

Factors that may have contributed to the decline in abortion were improvements in contraceptive use and increases in the number of individuals relying on self-managed abortions outside of a clinical setting. ~ Key findings from Guttmacher Report

New data suggests an increase in purchase of various self-managed abortion medicines in the wake of the #Kavanaugh confirmation ~ AKH @Guttmacher #rapeculture @SenatorCollinsClick To Tweet

“There was a huge jump during the Kavanaugh hearings, when I think people started to really realize that access to clinic-based abortion might be going away in many places,” Yanow said. “There has been steady growth even since last summer, when those hearings were taking place.” ~ Susan Yanow, Women Help Women, on NPR

A study in the Journal of @AmerMedicalAssn found that one in 16 women reported that their first sexual experience was rape. #rapeculture #kavanaugh @SenatorCollinsClick To Tweet



Dr Chris Smith on restoring the Supreme Court

Fix the Court’s proposal requires that when a new justice is appointed to the Court, the longest serving justice moves to the status of “Senior Justice.” A Senior Justice would no longer be a regular member of the Court. Rather, this justice would have a more limited role, serving on cases where there’s a conflict of interest for another judge; breaking ties on the most controversial cases; fulfilling vacancies that arise because a justice dies, retires, or is removed; and serving on lower federal courts. ~ Kent Law blogs

'One of the concerns about lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court is that the court lags behind the political values of the country if the appointments don't reflect changes in society.' ~Dr Christopher Smith, @msu_scj #SCOTUSClick To Tweet
#SCOTUS Justices come from the partisan world, and this affects how they apply their political values, even as they rationalize them in ways that attempt to look like there's a legal institutional basis for it. ~Dr Christopher Smith, @msu_scjClick To Tweet

What surprised scholars going back to Bush v. Gore, is that Bush v. Gore didn't have any lingering tarnishing of sort of the general public's view of the Supreme Court. And of course, this view is partly shaped by a lack of specific knowledge.

Courts and laws are thoroughly political, law is merely politics by another name. ~Dr Christopher Smith, @msu_scj #SCOTUSClick To Tweet
Your constitutional rights are based on the quirks of fate of who dies and retires and resigns. And when they do it. ~Dr Christopher Smith, @msu_scj #SCOTUSClick To Tweet
We know from Bush and from @realdonaldtrump that we sometimes have Presidents who are not chosen by the people but produced by the electoral system, so these #POTUS don't necessarily reflect the national developing values. #SCOTUSClick To Tweet



Greta Thunberg 0:05
I have not come to offer any prepared remarks at this hearing. I'm instead attaching my testimony. It is the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which was released on October 8 2018. I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don't want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists and I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take real action.

Walt Sorg 0:37
This is the Michigan Policast, I'm Walt Sorg and in a week where to have President Trump's closest allies told the world that Trump has committed at least two crimes, the voice of the week belongs instead to a diminutive 16 year old school girl from Sweden. She challenged our Congress and really the entire world. Greta Thunberg has mobilized mobilizing the youth of the world on a basic mission, saving the planet.

Christine Barry 0:59
I'm Christine Barry with the latest impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and nonstop coverage of his outrages, it's easy to lose track of some major challenges in Michigan. We seem to be headed to another showdown between Governor Whitmer and the Republican legislature. One wants to actually fix the roads in the schools. The other seems content with just kicking the can down the pothole-field road.

Amy Kerr Hardin 1:21
I'm Amy Kerr Hardin. One of the many disputes in the budget is an effort by Republicans to sabotage the independent redistricting commission that received 61% of the votes last November.

Walt Sorg 1:32
Two of Michigan's members in Congress take on Trump. Gary Peters introduces a bill that could mean fewer governmental checks written to Trump hotels, Elissa Slotkin questions the wisdom of stealing from the military budget to build the wall that Mexico won't pay for and nobody seems to really want. Michigan republicans gather on Mackinac Island for a return to the Great Gatsby, complete with visits from Mike Pence, who apparently needed automobiles on the driverless Island, Betsy DeVos and Lyin' Sanders. And Amy will have a special update on one of the most divisive issues with the last five decades, the right of women to control their own bodies. Before we get to that though, I really want to spend a moment on Greta Thunberg. She and the kids at Parkland down in Florida seem to be driving the political debate in this country much more so than the candidates are our political leaders. I find it really amazing. The teenagers are kind of taking over and makes me feel good.

Christine Barry 2:27
And thank God, they've got hopefully long lives ahead of them. And they have to deal with these things. The gun violence, climate change and all of these problems. So they've got skin in the game, and it's important that they be heard and and they finally are and Greta's amazing, isn't she? She's so authentic and genuine. She's serious. She's not gimmicky. I just I really like her.

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:51
I think this this will motivate a lot of people, young people to vote in 2020,

Walt Sorg 2:57
I saw one survey indicating that one out of every for under 25 voters is motivated by climate change, which is just an incredible number. Let's move on. Let's begin with the budget mess here in Lansing the state's new budget starts next week. Believe it or not, as we record this pod going into the final week of September, Christine, what's the status of the budget and the possibility of either major vetoes by the governor, or even a partial government shutdown?

Christine Barry 3:24
Well, the Republicans in the legislature did come to an agreement on some things and they did so with some Democratic support, and they will be sending a budget over to the Governor who I think we'll probably have to use a line item veto on some things just because of you know, her priorities.

But look here, here are the things that happened, that are part of this budget, that it's really more policy statements from the Republicans than anything else. First of all, we've talked about this before, but they've cut the Secretary of State funds in a way where the actual office comes out kind of even in the budget, but they took out Secretary of State general fund money and increased restricted funds. So they have a little bit more control over the spending. And in doing so they cut 1.2 million from the redistricting commission efforts. The second piece they did was they maintained Attorney General Nestle's budget, but they attach the requirement that she personally come before the committees in the legislature and justify any federal lawsuits and explain the cost of the lawsuits. It doesn't stop her from joining these lawsuits. But it does require that she personally come in and explain them. And it can't be one of her designees, They moved $400 million in general funds out of general funds for roads and bridges, which is an increase, but it's still a shell game, there's no new revenues.

Walt Sorg 4:45
it's one time money to which is something that needs to be considered. And as the governor pointed out, it's a half billion dollars, which is a lot of money. But the reality is, it's enough to fix four bridges.

Christine Barry 4:57
And it's just another example of this, let's do the least amount that we can get away with right now. And do the real work later. Even though we all know that the real work that we want to do won't come until we have super majorities everywhere so that we can do it as we want to do it. They're going to delay and delay until they can get exactly what they want. I think that the next one is an example of a to what they did with the Department of Corrections to withhold funding from sanctuary cities is kind of a, you know, kind of the headline for it. But what happens is the state reimburses local jails that house felons, that should be in state prisons. Any counties that will not detain immigrants for ice without a warrant, so these so-called sanctuary cities are not fully cooperating with ice, the Department of Corrections would not be allowed to reimburse them for housing felons that should go to state prisons. So there's a reason that we have this program. It's to keep that to limit prison growth, right? We want want these prisoners to be in the local jails, because local jails are better for prisoners, they can maintain their connections, there's no stigma of going to a prison, that kind of thing. But now the prisoners are going to have to go to prison, which means we have to reopen some facilities. And there's it's not a savings. I think it was Tom Barrett, who said, well, we'll have to deal with that later. Right now, we want them cooperating.

Walt Sorg 6:24
Yeah deal with things later. That's kind of the republican mantra in the legislature. The other thing that really hasn't come into play yet, but it's a very powerful tool that a governor has of the President of the United States does not have. And that's the line item veto. The governor could take a budget bill and just strike one line out of it and eliminate a program eliminate an appropriation. And I think that's where Gretchen Whitmer is really going to throw down the hammer on all of that she's going to take things that the republicans really want and say, Look, I'm going to veto this because it's not the way I want it done. And you haven't gotten really far enough the secretary of state's budget, I think is one where that will happen because of the funding for the district and commission.

Amy Kerr Hardin 7:01
I find it particularly rich, the lawmakers are demanding that AG Dana Nestle appear before them to justify any federal lawsuit. Given that many of these are the same lawmakers that just turned a blind eye when Bill Shuette her predecessor, Bill “Sue 'em” Schuette was just filing one lawsuit after another.

Walt Sorg 7:20
And of course, in Washington, their grand and glorious leader Donald Trump has instructed everybody in the executive branch to totally ignore Congress and to defy subpoenas. The politics of it is really very interesting. Also, we have to take into account the fact that General Motors there's a strike against General Motors. And in Michigan, that is a huge economic impact almost immediately, not just because of what it does to state revenues, but also what it does to local revenues. I live in Lansing. And our city's budget is predicated in large part on the income tax. And if GM workers and suppliers workers aren't working, they're not paying income tax,

Amy Kerr Hardin 7:57
not to mention all the suppliers that supply GM and the other automakers, you know, making like wire harnesses and so forth. They're going to be idled too.

Walt Sorg 8:06
at the state level. If the strike last much longer, it has an impact a major impact on revenue for the coming fiscal year. And they may have to start all over again. I remember years and years ago when I was working for the legislature, and we had a situation where General Motors was on strike, and almost threw us into a recession locally. Because of the last revenues. It's very, very impactful on the state of Michigan I use a lot of “very's”, but you can't really overstate the impact of a GM strike on michigan state budget, and on the local budgets of any city that's got an income tax.

Christine Barry 8:38
Well, anytime there's a slowdown in GM, you know, Michigan gets hurt. Look at what we were going through in the quote unquote, lost decade, they call it, but we were kind of the canary in the coal mine because the big recession hurt us first, because it hurt the big automakers first. It's always scary to me when I see things really, really bad happening, with GM and long strikes. They are just so important to our economy.

Walt Sorg 9:03
Yeah, before we get off the budget, and another topic. So a little background on this dispute regarding the funding for the Independent Redistricting Commission. When we wrote the amendment, we knew the legislature would try to do something like this, basically starve it to death, so that it couldn't function. That's why it was written into the constitution that it would get a guaranteed budget, which represented 25% of the Secretary of State's general fund budget, it never occurred to us that they would figure out a way to lower the general fund budget for the Secretary of State. But there's another clause in there, which they really are not paying much attention to right now. And it says if the commissioners after their appointed, find that they don't have enough money, they can send a little note to the legislature saying, hey, legislature, we need more money. And if the legislature doesn't give it to them, the Commission has the power to take them to court to force them to give it to them.

Christine Barry 9:50
Well, that's that's something I think 25% is the exact number that they cut that general fund money for Secretary of State, actually, you know, they have big think tanks, looking at everything, and trying to find a way around it. And so, you guys did pretty well considering what you're up against.

Walt Sorg 10:15
This is a podcast after all about Michigan politics. But sadly, all politics seems to revolve around our pumpkin spice president who has stepped up his efforts to undermine both the Constitution and the rule of law. Michigan political leaders are playing a major role in the unfolding shit show that is Washington DC, and the Trump crime family. At the core of all of this is the refusal of Trump and his minions to voluntarily obey any law they deem inconvenient. And some of our representatives in DC are moving to counter Trump

Christine Barry 10:44
and one of the President's less consequential crimes has been using the federal treasury as his company's cash reserve fund, specifically making decisions which has an impact of forcing the feds to write checks to hotels and golf courses. So for example, we've got Air Force flight crews, overnighting at his Scottish Golf Resort. He's decided the perfect place for the leaders of the g7 to spend millions of dollars is his Doral Golf Resort. And most weekends he takes off to one of his resorts to play golf, meaning dozens of staff and security book rooms at his resort, and the Secret Service even has to rent golf carts. You guys right golf carts from him to protect him while he cheats at golf. Michigan senator Gary Peters has introduced a simple solution to this obvious plundering of the Treasury.

Gary Peters  11:32
The legislation that we've introduced with 35 of my colleague says, basically, you cannot use federal per diem at a hotel that is owned by a high government official. And that's defined as you know, the president the vice president or a cabinet official.

Christine Barry 11:47
Peters was interviewed by Aaron Melbourne on MSNBC

Gary Peters  11:51
you should not be mixing that government business with a personal gain of a government officials. Certainly back in Michigan, I can tell you the folks that Michigan want to make sure that taxpayer money is being used the way it should be used and, and and for good government purposes. It should not be used to line the pockets of a president or any other high government official.

Amy Kerr Hardin 12:12
Trump is also raiding the Defense Department, canceling or postponing dozens of Pentagon projects in favor of building the wall that neither Mexico nor Congress is willing to pay for representative Elissa Slotkin, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense is crying file in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN.

Elissa Slotkin 12:29
And listen, I'm on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, I am ready to have the conversation about border security. Frankly, as a CIA officer, I worked my entire life to preserve the homeland from attack. Most people think we're talking about security at the border fencing barriers. And I personally don't have a problem with those things. I don't think the speaker has a problem with real border security, but it has to be focused on the actual threats. And while I support doing more where we need it, most people right now are coming through the ports of entry. They're not sneaking over. They're coming right through our borders. And we have organizations that are completely overwhelmed by that. So let's focus on what the real concerns are and address that and pay for that, instead of just like over and over with the campaign promise.

Walt Sorg 13:14
And the big kahuna is the admission by America's worst attorney Rudy Giuliani, that on behalf of Trump he has asked the government of the Ukraine to provide dirt on Joe Biden, something that has been confirmed now by the President. That's what most people would call collusion. I think I've heard that word before. that amounts to multiple felonies. Representative Dan Kildee a member of the House leadership says Enough is enough.

Dan Kildee 13:38
I have been in favor of an impeachment inquiry for quite some time, just based on the evidence that I read. Even in the second chapter of the second volume of the Mueller report. This question really raises the ante quite a bit. This raises a question as to whether or not the President would engage a foreign power to investigate one of his political opponents and may have offered we don't know until we see the information for may have offered something in exchange for that, you know, I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you I know right from wrong. The way I was raised in Flint, Michigan, that's wrong.

Walt Sorg 14:17
Okay, let's look at the impeachment issues related to our members of Congress for Michigan. You've got Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, who are really on the fence right now on impeachment simply because they both won in Trump districts. Is this going to be enough to push them over the edge? Are they going to finally step forward and say, yeah, it's time Are they going to pick the Pelosi line of which wait for the election?

Amy Kerr Hardin 14:41
Well, I think that this is different from Russian collusion because it's very solid. It was Trump himself on the phone doing this, as opposed to sending some of his lackeys from his campaign to do it for him. So I think it's a much more impeachable offense. Sure, the Senate isn't going to, you know, vote upon the impeachment. But the whole idea is that this is an election year, and we want to get this information out there so voters can make an informed decision.

Christine Barry 15:08
Well, and the background to this is that the FEC has already issued a statement that all of this is illegal. And that was to clear up stuff that this idiot has said before, about how if a foreign government offered him information on an opponent, he would take it.

Walt Sorg 15:23
He said it on national TV with George Stephanopoulos, but it's perfectly okay.

Christine Barry 15:27
There are people who are always Trump voters, and they're just going to be but reasonable people who voted for him because they didn't like the alternative, or because they were hoping for some good conservative policy or something. might look at this and say, okay, think what you want about Russia, but Russia is just one layerr, right? We don't really know if we believe the mueller report or not. So that's another layer. Then you have him being a buffoon, talking about what we just mentioned with foreign governments. Then you have the FEC saying things, all of these things are layers. Then at the top of it right now, is this new thing with the Ukraine. So at some point, it's got to get traction.

Walt Sorg 16:08
Okay, quick prediction time, and we'll probably all be wrong on this. What are the chances the house will actually vote to impeach the president? I say 10%

Amy Kerr Hardin 16:19
Oh, I'm going to go higher. I'm going to say 30

Walt Sorg 16:21
We're recording this Christine and I'm not going to throw the tape away.

Christine Barry 16:27
I don't think I I don't really think there's any chance.

Walt Sorg 16:31
Isn't that depressing?

Christine Barry 16:33
It is depressing. But that's just where I'm at right now.

Walt Sorg 16:36
I'm feeling hopeful

Christine Barry 16:37
At 30%. That's hopeful.

Amy Kerr Hardin 16:40
In this day and age in the air of Trump, yes.

Christine Barry 16:43
I think that was the campaigning that we have to do. I'm not sure that they're going to want that vote on record.

Amy Kerr Hardin 16:48
Well, at least the investigation can move forward, even if they don't take a vote on it.

Walt Sorg 16:53
But they've been so incompetent at this investigation. I mean, one thing they've got to do is the members of the House Judiciary Committee, you got to get the hell out of the way and let their staff lawyers do the questioning because that's when you actually get the meat. Corey Lewandowski, flat out said under oath, the Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice, but it took the staff attorney to get them to say that

Christine Barry 17:15
well, no. Yeah. I mean, we can't do anything to make them better at this process. It's frustrating. I sit there and watch it and wringing your hands. But what can you do?

Walt Sorg 17:25
Yeah, it's really sad. I watched these hearings pathetically too much. And there are very few members of Congress that are very good at questioning hostile witnesses like Lewandowski, actually, Adam Schiff is very good in the Intelligence Committee, Jerry, Nadler the Chair of Judiciary is very good. AOC is very good. I've seen her do good work. And Kamala Harris and Amy Corbett's are very good at it. But the rest of them are giving political speeches. They got five minutes they spend for over giving some political speech, and then you get somebody like Lewandowski says, Would you please just read it out of the report? Because I can't read. It's a joke. I go back. I remember the Watergate hearings, Sam Irvin held, and they turned most of the question over to their staff attorneys. And that was so good, in fact, that one of the staff attorneys for the minority party, Fred Thompson, ended up as United States senators a result of that, and then later got to be a star on law and order. So he got a double-dip out of it.

Amy Kerr Hardin 18:22
Even Nancy Pelosi, who's not a fan of any impeachment hearings, called out Nadler for not holding on Lewandowski on contempt. I found that interesting because it's a little bit of talking about both sides of her mouth there. You know, I don't want them to do this, do this, but if they do, they should do it correctly.

Walt Sorg 18:40
I think she's continuing her strategy of letting Nancy Pelosi being the lightning rod and the person who gets all the crap because she's trying to protect her members. I give her credit for that. I think her strategy sucks. But her I think her intentions are good.

Well, all of this was going on Michigan republicans were holding there by any old conference on Mackinac Island. In a setting worthy of The Great Gatsby. Their speakers list included Vice President Mike Pence. He decided to go against the traditions of Mackinac Island by using an eight-car caravan for transportation on the island, which of course bans the use of motorized vehicles. He is the first national figure to do that. Even President Ford when he was president. He took a buggy wagon from the airport down to the Grand Hotel.


Secret Service practicing for VP Pence motorcade on Mackinac Island
Also on hand to fantasize about the 2020 election or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would be Arkansas governor Sarah Sanders, Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, and even former Congressman Mike Bishop was there. But a Detroit News column this described the conferences lackluster. Ingrid jack wrote in the Sunday detroit news, if Michigan republicans are pumped for 2020 and they'll need to be if they hope to help Donald Trump work to reelection. It didn't show up in attendance at their biennial convention here, missing along with the bodies signs of over the top support for Trump.

But perhaps the most interesting activity I thought at the conference surrounded our old buddy, former Attorney General Bill Schuette, he floated the idea of running for Michigan Supreme Court at the age of 65. It would fill out his government service bingo card, which includes state legislator, Congressman Court of Appeals judge, agriculture director, Attorney General and of course failed candidate for governor, ladies, which I think

Amy Kerr Hardin 20:28
I wish he would just go away. I'm so tired of that man.

Christine Barry 20:33
Well, he might I mean, he has. I doubt it. But he might. There are, I think three possible options here. One is that he just stays in retirement, and he's kind of an elder statesman for the Michigan Republican Party. Another is working on Trump's reelection, he could head up that campaign. In any event that Trump wins, maybe he'll do something with Trump in the future. And then the other is the supreme court that he hasn't really said that he's interested in. But he's he's got some concerns about the direction of the court. I couldn't even figure this out how many cases are going to be coming up to that court in the next few years, that the republicans would really just love to have Bill Schuette on that court to make some decisions.

Walt Sorg 21:15
They've got a real problem on the court too extensively. It's a four three Republican majority right now. But in defense of Rick Snyder, the two justices he is appointed to the court are basically judges and they're not very partisan. Coming up for election next year. You've got the Chief Justice Bridget McCormick and she's going nowhere. she'll win easily. And then you've got an open seat created by the forced retirement of the former Chief Justice Stephen Markman who has to leave because of age limits, Supreme Court justices, they need to fill that slot, or they're really in deep trouble on the quarter officially, if Democrats were to take that second slot, it would be a fourth grade democratic court, with two of the three republicans tending to vote down the middle

Amy Kerr Hardin 22:00
Bill Schuette, He has had his hands in so many political things and legal things in the state of Michigan. And the Michigan supreme court does not have specific rules for recusal. So he could find himself in conflict of interest frequently if he sat on the court, and I doubt that he would recuse himself voluntarily.

Walt Sorg 22:16
Yeah, my prediction is that Democrats will nominate a female African American for the other slot, because right now, it's an all white court as a result of the defeat of Curtis Wilder in 2018. And it has been demonstrated time and time again that women running for the court generally are more potent candidates than the men.

Christine Barry 22:34
Did you guys see the article that reported Brian's Zahra's comments on Saturday from the Republican conference, where he he said that the defeat of while there was devastating to the rule of law in Michigan.

Walt Sorg 22:45
That was quite a slam against Megan Cavanagh.

Christine Barry 22:45
Yeah, what is just a total tool. He's up in 2022. So heads up to everybody.

Walt Sorg 22:55
One thing I think all of this brings to the forefront, though, is the importance of the Michigan Supreme Court. I know somebody who worked so hard on the redistricting amendment, we were really sweating it when it was before the Supreme Court because all that hard work that was done by thousands of citizens and all the other things that went into it, it could all be for naught just because of the decision of seven people.

Amy Kerr Hardin 23:14
Well, typically the judiciary is are the grown ups in the room. I know that that is changing at the federal level, especially with the US Supreme Court. But Michigan, I think they're they still have good judicial temperaments most of the time.

Walt Sorg 23:26
There was also in that article, some comments from Republicans were upset with the way the party dealt with Beth Clement, who had voted to support the voters, not politicians petition drive, even though the republicans were adamantly against it. And they basically shunned her. And she turned right around and was the leading candidate for the court pleasure.

Christine Barry 23:48
Now, the other thing that I was going to say, Bill shooting up for a popular vote again, the Supreme Court is a popular vote. So can he win a popular vote in Michigan? I don't think that he he's got a destructively conservative record as attorney general. And even before that, he's got a creepy video of him out there trying to impress a lady. And

Walt Sorg 24:11
he's got his mind with Trump.

Christine Barry 24:12
He's got Flint. Yep. And he's got Flint, so I don't think he can even when Go ahead, Amy,

Amy Kerr Hardin 24:18
I was just going to say the republican party would have to nominate him and they have to take all of those things into consideration. So they may be looking for a fresh face instead.

Walt Sorg 24:30
An interesting report came out my last few days, which shows that the number of abortions in this nation are going down, but not necessarily for the reasons you would think, Amy, you've been looking into this What's going on?

Amy Kerr Hardin 24:42
Yes, the Guttmacher Institute, it's a worldwide reproductive health rights organization reports that abortions are occurring at the lowest rate since the procedure was legalized in 1973. And they've dropped by 7% between 2014 and 2017. And notably, 39% of them have abortions now are medicinally induced that means taking a pill as opposed to going into a clinic and having a procedure done. The report noted that the new restrictive laws had no impact on the decline and the procedure. Additionally, there has been no increase in unintended pregnancies. And states that do not have restrictive laws have the same decline as states they have restrictive laws. So it's a difference in the culture. And also, you know, thank you to Obamacare, because expanded use of contraceptives and increased use of self managed terminations outside the clinical setting.

In places where abortions or the morning after pill is not readily available, or is not covered by insurance, or it's too costly. Women are turning to other medicine based forms of abortion, one drug and I'm not even going to try to pronounce it here. It's an ulcer medication, and it's being used for abortions. And it's apparently quite safe to use and it's available over the counter in Mexico. Guttmacher also reports that there's a slight increase in women seeking medical help after a self managed abortion. data suggests an uptick in online searches and purchases of various abortion meds specifically in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation. So they linked those two things they are women concerned about restrictions on these drugs are once again going underground with their reproductive rights, and that that's not a good thing to have happen.

And as a sidebar is very disturbing to me, and should be to everyone. America is a rape culture. A study in the Journal of American Medical Association found that one in 16 women reported that their first sexual experience was rape. That's horrifying.

Walt Sorg 26:45
Yeah, I live very close to Michigan State University, which of course has gone through all sorts of issues relating to sexual assault, whether it was by Larry Nasser on a mass scale, or by individuals, a lot of publicity lately, for student athletes, football players and basketball players who have been accused one way or another. I don't know if it's more awareness, or it's simply that it's getting worse, it's hard to tell because the data is so bad.

Amy Kerr Hardin 27:13
I think that MSU in particular there in the spotlight, but there's probably a rape culture on almost every campus in the United States,

Christine Barry 27:21
at least in some pieces of it. You could pick any university, I think in the country, and you would find at least a department or a fraternity or some, you know, sub segment of that University, where you would have that kind of a problem. I mean, it's enabled in our society, as long as we accept things like well, she wanted it. She was dressing like that. Therefore, she must have wanted that kind of attention. As long as we accept those kinds of things.

Walt Sorg 27:54
The culture starts at the top. And we have in the White House, a man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault, or variations thereof two dozen times, who appointed to the Supreme Court, somebody who has credible allegations of sexual assault against him. And that side doesn't really seem to care. In fact, Mike Pence spoke about it over the weekend at Mackinac Island, just attacking people for even having the temerity to attack Brett Kavanagh for his lascivious past.

Christine Barry 28:25
Yeah, I'm sorry. I don't know what to say that it's so upsetting to me, that people like that are rewarded with positions of power. It's so just I just have this real visceral reaction.

Walt Sorg 28:38
It seems like Harvey Weinstein's mistake was not getting a government job before he was exposed.

Of all the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have brought upon us perhaps none is longer lasting than their very successful packing of the courts. With the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett kavanagh and the advanced age of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer possibly bringing another vacancy in the next year, Trump is on the verge of being able to guarantee a right wing majority of the Supreme Court for decades, even now, we have a court were four of the nine justices were selected by presidents who lost the popular vote. It's the very definition of minority rule. How can the court be restored to be more representative of our nation and its values? I explored the question with our friend, political scientist, Dr. Chris Smith, he's a professor at Michigan State University.

Speaker 29:29
Well, we can understand that there are both sort of partisan and institutional concerns at issue here. I think what we see most in the press is recognizing from the example you cite the partisan concerns, and the questions being posed to Democratic presidential candidates are getting a mix of responses about this. But I would just call attention to a longer standing now for to suggest reform for the Supreme Court that's based on institutional concerns. And of course, among scholars and students of democracy, this great concern about the Supreme Court's legitimacy, will the public view it as a nonpartisan non ideological legal institution

Walt Sorg 30:23
Didn't that go out the door in 2000. With Bush v. Gore?

Speaker 30:26
Well, I'm political scientist, so I see as full of politics, but survey research indicates the Supreme Court's image in the mind of the public is amazingly resilient, you know, the concern of legitimacy is not so much that, you know, highly educated people believe it's not political, but that the general public has enough faith in it to actually comply and obey with decisions that are made, you know, we talked about Congress has the power of the purse, President has the sword, the court has its own legitimacy. So there's a group of law professors that for quite a number of years, have been pushing a statute that would create this kind of rotation system, rotation of appointments, that would have the effect of limiting the terms of who the nine are on the Supreme Court. And in 2017, this list of famous law professors send a letter once again with their proposed law, called the Regularization of Supreme Court appointments act of 2017. And they sent it to McConnell and Schumer and Pelosi to once again try to initiate what they see into mix of liberal or conservative is a non partisan effort to shore up the court. And it comes from a couple of different concerns. One is that you have people like john paul stevens, on the Supreme Court for 35 years, up to age 90, is that the best thing for the country because you have issues of incapacity, you have issues of whether or not the Supreme Court lags behind the political values of the country, if the appointments don't continue and reflect changes in society.

Walt Sorg 32:26
I'm curious, you say that the court is very resilient in terms of public perception of the court. Would that all go out the window if there was more monkey business by McConnell, and say, let's let's assume, for example, the Trump was was defeated for reelection. And there was an opening and you've got two justices right now that are kind of mentioned Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are both in their 80s and could leave the court anytime. If McConnell did a 180 and unlike Merrick Garland, and jam somebody threw at the last second, with that destroy the course, credibility, which, as you say, is its power,

Speaker 33:03
I would be concerned that that's exactly the kind of thing that you would think would cause incredible harm, you know, but I think what surprised scholars going back to Bush v. Gore, is that Bush v. Gore didn't have any lingering tarnishing of sort of the general public's view of the Supreme Court. And of course, this view is partly shaped by a lack of specific knowledge. It's partly shaped by the kind of, I don't mean this in too pejorative in the sense, but the propagandising that we do about civics, and belief in our country that begins, you know, in second grade, but I would be very concerned and interested whether that's precisely the kind of thing which would have a much more significant impact, especially in light of the current Presidency and the limits of public popularity of the current Presidency.

Walt Sorg 34:07
I remember decades ago, a friend of mine who taught political science at Michigan State Harold Spaeth, used to make national headlines by being able to predict how the Supreme Court would rule on a specific issue. Now, just about anybody who reads the New York Times for The Washington Post could predict how they're going to vote. And it's going to be five four.

Speaker 34:24
Well, you know, if you actually look at all the cases the court does live for is just a percentage of things because there are numbers of issues that arise, you know, that are less visible and controversial, where there's a greater sort of consensus, but indeed, on those real hot button issues. That's the pattern that we often see. And of course, that's where Anthony Kennedy became so prominent because of his deviation from his usual philosophical allies, on certain kinds of issues. So the speculation and interest among scholars now I think, is kind of twofold. One is, will John Roberts, as someone who's shown some concern about the courts image and legitimacy become a little more cautious about following his true philosophy in order to not go too far. And the other one of interest to me, is whether or not there might be specific issues, where Brett Kavanagh is quite what someone might predict through the Harold Spaeth model, both because, you know, for example, there were a couple cases last year related to things like juries or defense attorneys that weren't quite how one might predict. The other thing I wonder about is whether Brett Kavanaugh may feel personally that he has something to prove that he is not merely the predictable puppet of the partisan characterization that followed him to the court, and we'll see about that.

Walt Sorg 36:04
Let me get off on a side issue a little bit regarding the court. In the ruling on gerrymandering, which, you know, is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart, it seems like the majority opinion said, yeah, it looks like it's unconstitutional, but we don't know how to fix it. So we're going to punt. That seems to me to be a very strange judicial posture towards something that they see as improper.

Speaker 36:27
Strange, but in a way, not unprecedented. Because, of course, if we go back prior to one man, you know, one vote in the early 60s, there is also this lingering historical memory of their certain kinds of issues that we should not get involved in. You know, and it's not just that it's things related to foreign affairs, also gets that. And, you know, part of it is there may be legit concerns about, not necessarily just legitimate to me, but arguably legitimate concerns about whether they're going to end up being the referees for 50 different redistricting plans every 10 years. But it's hard to discount. The fact that they come from the partisan world, they come from the partisan establishment, and this affects human beings and how they apply their political values, even as they rationalize them in ways that attempt to look like there's a legal institutional basis for it. So I don't disagree with your characterization. And I'm one is always argued that courts and law are thoroughly political, it law is merely politics by another name.

Walt Sorg 37:49
Let's circle back to where we began. And that is a reform of the process for naming and keeping supreme court justices, in effect the proposal to term limit them by rotating them in and out of the court, how would that work?

Speaker 38:00
So what the proposal from the law professors is, is and of course, you have a constitutional issue here in the sense that the Constitution does speak to appointments confirmed by the Senate who serve, quote, during good behavior, which we've always treated as you know, for life, except that you get impeached or resign or retire. So what this proposal does, by statute, because constitutional amendments are just way too difficult, is to say that each president would appoint a new justice in the President's first and third year after election or reelection, and that the effect of that over time would have a limiting effect, because then the most senior justice at the moment that the next appointment is going to be made, that would increase you over the size of nine, the next senior justice, the most senior justice would become a senior justice, who would no longer be actively involved in hearing the courts cases, except on a fill in basis. If the court was ever fewer than not. And the idea is that we would not get these situations, you know, as you remember, we were in one situation where we were 27 years without a democratic president making an appointment, because Jimmy Carter simply had no opportunities during his term. And it also gets rid of sort of, as I say, to my students, you know, your constitutional rights are based on the quirks of fate of who dies and retires and resigns. And when they do it. And you avoid more of the quirks of fate, aspects by having this regularization.

And the other thing is, everybody then would know it clear how long somebody is going to be one of the active nine on the court and be very clear that every president would have the opportunity to appoint a finite number of justices. What would that would mean, in practice, it's hard to say, because we also know both from bush and from Trump that we have a situation where presidents are not, as they want to say, chosen by the people, but produced by the electoral system, so that you actually get situations potentially, and in reality of presidents who don't necessarily reflect the national developing values, it's a different kind of work of fate.

Walt Sorg 40:45
Four of the nine justices were appointed by Bush and Trump, neither of whom was elected with the majority of the votes, they both lost in the popular vote.

Speaker 40:54
That's right, I find that very problematic. That's a problem I have with the electoral college. And this statute can't address that because the electoral college is more of a constitutional amendment type of issue to deal with, except to the extent that different states are trying to respond in guiding their own electors within that process.

Walt Sorg 41:16
Chris, pleasure talking with you, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 41:19
Well, thanks for inviting me. I enjoyed it.

Amy Kerr Hardin 41:26
That's it for this week's podcast. For more information on all of today's topics, head over to MichiganPolicast.com. For links, videos and tweets galore.

Christine Barry 41:35
We absolutely welcome your feedback. You can reach us through our Facebook and Twitter accounts or by sending a note to MIpolicast at gmail.com

Walt Sorg 41:43
And if you'd be so kind as to rate us on the iTunes thing, and maybe at a short review we'd be most appreciative will be back in a week hopefully with a state that is still in business. We have a baby in Christine. I'm old sword. Thanks for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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