Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News
Detroit –Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor called for change in the way Michigan elects its judges in a speech Tuesday at Wayne State University.
O’Connor cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that she said is likely to further politicize judicial elections. The decision removed limits on special interest and corporate campaign spending.
“There has to be one safe place in our system of government where decisions are based on the law and people can be fair and impartial,” said O’Connor, an advocate for appointment of judges rather than election.
She was the keynote speaker at a symposium hosted by the university law school and the Michigan chapter of American Board of Trial Advocates. The daylong event explored options for selection of judges to limit the impact of politics on the courtroom.
“Being right has to be more important than being popular,” O’Connor said. “In order for judges to dispense law without prejudice, they need to be certain they won’t suffer political retribution.”
O’Connor, 69, said the issue intensified last month when the Supreme Court declared campaign finance laws violate constitutional free speech rights when they limit independent political message spending by special interest groups like corporations and labor unions.
O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. She retired four years ago.
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