2017-11-09 / Columns

Juggling Federal Judges

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

In one of his first major acts, President Donald Trump appointed Denver based 10th Circuit U.S. Appeals Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate and has been shaking things up as a newcomer.

Of recent judicial note was Trump’s appointment, and the Wednesday Senate confirmation by a 60-30 vote, of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, for lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

The 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The vote on Larsen, 48, a former teacher at the University of Michigan from Scio Township, who was a Michigan Supreme Court justice for two years, was of particular interest to this scribe because Michigan Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters broke with most of their fellow Democrats to vote to confirm Larsen.

As quoted by The Detroit News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc- Connell of Kentucky said, “She’ll be a strong addition to that court and a benefit to our nation.” He called her a “well-qualified” jurist with a record of independence and fairness.

However, President Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice, said, “Larsen is probably one of the most troublesome federal judges President Trump has given us, because she believes presidents have the right to ignore the law if they think there’s a risk to national security. That kind of power would be terrifying in the hands of Donald Trump.”

Early on, Larson clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Also part of the current political mix is retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young, who is a Republican challenger of Stabenow.

Michigander or Michiganian?

The lingering controversy over what Michigan citizens are called surfaced once again last week when the Detroit Free Press published yet another article on an issue that was first spurred by Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln used “Michigander” to apply it to Michigan territorial Governor Lewis Cass as a silly goose.

The Detroit Free Press said that Governor Rick Snyder prefers Michigander, while recent governors James Blanchard, John Engler, and Jennifer Granholm prefer Michiganian (as do I).

The Detroit Free Press itself uses Michigander. The Detroit News style is Michiganian.

In January 2012, mlive.com published a poll of what state citizens themselves favored.

Results: Michigander 63.94%; Michiganian 33.70%; Michiganite 2.36%.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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