Taylor's place in hotly contested Mich. race official

John O'Brien Aug. 25, 2008, 3:35pm


NOVI, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - To no one's surprise -- but to the state Democratic Party's dismay -- Justice Clifford Taylor was nominated Saturday at the Michigan Republican Party's convention to run for re-election this November.

Taylor is a target of state Democrats who hope to overturn the Court's Republican majority. The Democratic Party has not named his opponent yet, but that hasn't stopped its members from putting out an anti-Taylor message.

Last month, Democrats criticized Taylor for referring to himself as "just one of the boys" as it pertains to any strain the role of chief justice puts on his relationships with other justices. Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said Taylor's record on the Court shows an indifference toward sexual harassment.

"Taylor's reference to his role on the Court as 'one of the boys' is an insult to women, which is no surprise given his record of indifference to workplace rape and abuse," Brewer said.

"At a time when women have made so many strides toward being treated as equals, especially in the workplace, it is disturbing to see this attitude at the highest levels of government."

Democrats also called on Taylor not to block a proposal that would cut the pay of judges around the state.

"Any attempt by Taylor to keep this issue away from the voters will be a blatant political move intended only to protect his personal pay and special perks," Brewer said.

Taylor was appointed to the state's high court in August 1997 by Republican Gov. John Engler to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley. In 1998, he was elected to fill the balance of Riley's term.

Taylor was re-elected to a full eight-year term in 2000.

Saturday, Taylor, who has raised more than $1.5 million for his campaign, had harsh words for his critics, according to a report by The Associated Press.

"The Democratic Party wants to go back to the days of frivolous lawsuits," Taylor said, according to the report.

"They want to go back to the days where trial lawyers would shop around for judges who would deconstruct the law or the constitution should that be required in a particular cause."

The Manhattan Institute recently released an issue of its Trial Lawyers, Inc. series that focused on the legal climate in Michigan.

"Trial Lawyers, Inc. has been hoping to replace this well-schooled and principled jurist; with liberal activist justices holding three of the seven seats on the court, replacing Justice Taylor with one of their own would facilitate a judicial assault on legislatively enacted tort reforms," the report says.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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