Judicial Philosophy

I believe that the rule of law requires judges to be impartial and not decide cases based on their own personal, social or political views.  Judges must take the law as it is written: we should neither add to it nor subtract from it, and apply it equally to everyone alike.

I am a Rule of Law judge and this philosophy embodies a simple recognition that judges are not smarter than the people and their elected representatives who make our laws.  Because the people, through their legislators, have the power to determine the laws that govern them, judges should not act contrary to the express will of the people.  Rule of Law judges respect the constitution and the people by faithfully applying the law as it is written.

The opposing judicial philosophy believes that judges should change the law in a manner that the judge believes to be “better,” even if that interpretation is inconsistent with the language of the people’s laws.  Many of us know this style of judging as “empathy” judging—deciding cases on the basis of which party a judge believes is more sympathetic rather than the legal merits of the case.  Of course, any child knows that empathy for someone means bias against someone else, and I believe that “empathy judging” is simply not consistent with the constitutional role of a judge.

The courts serve an important, but limited role in society—both in properly applying the law as written and in determining whether a particular law violates the constitution.  Michigan citizens deserve no less than courts that apply the rule of law equally to everyone.

Michigan citizens likewise deserve courts that are careful stewards of their tax dollars.  As Chief Justice my goal is to ensure that the people of this state have effective courts–but no more of them than the judicial workload warrants.  In the months ahead, I will be working to ensure that we have the right number of courts properly to serve our citizens and that our judiciary is one that all Michiganders can be proud of.