Makeup of state supremes could strengthen views on environmental laws
Published: October 6, 2010
"I think they're coming back to a more moderate center which I believe is more consistent with the people of the state of Michigan. Hopefully some of the bad cases we've seen over the last decade were the exception to the rule and this court and future courts will take positions that strongly protect the environment," he says.
The conservative justices have complained that if the court hears AuSable Anglers and uses it to overturn the Nestle Water and Dunes cases, it would violate stare decisis — the prevailing legal tenet that dictates courts, in general, should let previous legal decisions stand.
"The reason why the 'new majority' declines to [dismiss the case] is because it disagrees with this Court's decisions in Michigan Citizens vs. Nestle Waters and Preserve the Dunes vs. DEQ. It now seeks to overrule them despite constitutional mootness principles that deprive this Court of the authority to do so in this appeal," Young wrote in the dissenting opinion issued in response to the court majority's decision to hear the case.
Talk about hypocrisy of the highest order. The Nestle and Dunes cases undid decades of legal precedent and were, in the minds of many, completely at odds with the Legislature's intent when it drafted and adopted the state's Environmental Protection Act.
In other words, as far as the conservatives are concerned, precedent is only important when it favors their political agenda. Otherwise, screw what has come before and make up new rules.
Looking forward, two justices will be elected in November, which could, again affect the court's makeup if the current liberal majority is replaced with Republicans.
"It comes down to who gets elected," says Bill Ballenger, editor of Michigan Politics, and a leading state political analyst. "You're going to see a lot of money spent on this in the next four weeks, that's for sure."
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