Bridget McCormack, a candidate for Michigan Supreme Court and clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor says the judicial system differs from other governing bodies because it’s supposed to be independant of politics and partisanship.
|If elected McCormack says she would work to assure the judicial system was free from partisanship, and promote collegiality on the Michigan Supreme Court.|
“You evaluate things based on the law, so it doesn’t matter what your position is,” she said.
McCormack says in the past partisanship has intervened in the way the Supreme Court makes decisions; she wants to make sure that doesn’t happen, and the system works the way it was intended to.
“We see first hand how politics and partisanship undermines an independent judiciary, and Michigan like a number of states has suffered from some of that at our Supreme Court level in recent years. I can complain or do something about it,” she said.
If elected McCormack says she would work to assure the judicial system is free from partisanship, and promote collegiality on the Court.
She said the public’s confidence in the judicial system is undermined when judges make decisions guided by partisanship or the considerations of some interests, rather than adherence to the rule of law.
“It really needs to be non-partisan and independent so it can treat everyone fairly and equally. It is really important for it to work the way it was imagined for it to work from the very beginning. The system the founders imagined and put together is actually a pretty good one if it works the way it’s supposed to work,” she said.
In 1996 McCormack became a faculty fellow at Yale Law School where she taught advocacy and professional responsibility, and supervised litigation in state and federal courts. She joined the University of Michigan’s Law School faculty in 1998. Since then she has conducted and supervised many types of civil and criminal litigation at all court levels as an attorney.
While the idea of voiding partisanship and politics from the Court has influenced McCormack to launch a campaign, it’s not the only reason she wants a seat on the bench of the state’s highest court.
The rulings the Court makes have huge influence on Michigan families, and she wants to be a part of making important decisions that will touch countless lives.
“The question for me has always been, ‘where can I have the biggest impact?’ The decisions it makes are going to affect the public as a whole, all our communities and families in really important ways, and I would like to be a force for good,"' she said.
McCormack’s life work has centered around serving others. She began her career as a legal aid representing people who couldn’t afford an attorney.
She’s the founder of the Michigan Innocence Clinic. The non-DNA clinic was launched three years ago, and has already managed to get six people exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit.
McCormack is also the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at the University of Michigan. The clinic has 14 programs, and McCormack has played a major role in helping create many of them.
“Law students learn skills and values from the clinic that they can’t learn in the traditional classroom. We’re serving the community,” she said.
The clinic’s programs provide resources to underserved families who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. A significant portion of the clinic’s services are used by minority communities who can’t afford the resources it offers.
McCormack is a mentor to many of her students, and still keeps in touch with several former ones. "My students keep in touch with me forever, and are doing incredible things because of the values and work we expose them to," she said.
She decided to run for public office about a year and a half ago, but the decision wasn’t easy, because she would be required to leave her job, and the work she’s passionate about. “As the dean of clinical affairs I feel like I’m doing good everyday. As the dean I get to think up and create new clinical programs where law students can provide really good representation for people who wouldn’t otherwise have it,” she said.
The Court receives about 2000 cases every year, and only agrees to take about 200. Many of its requests come from lower courts, asking them to fix decisions.
McCormack said it’s not the court’s job to correct decisions made by lower courts, but rather the court should take cases that would impact society as a whole.
“I think all the cases the Supreme Court takes have a far bigger impact then a single case itself," she said.
Her husband Steve Croley, a lawyer and law professor is currently an attorney for the executive office of the president. They have four children.
McCormack was recently endorsed by the Arab American Political Action Committee.
She discussed the meaning behind the symbol of America's justice system, Lady Justice. Lady Justice holds the scales of justice in her left hand and wears a blindfold over her eyes. The blindfold is not to symbolize that justice is completely blind, but rather that justice is blind to people of position, people of power, people of authority, and people of wealth and completely blind to national origin, race, creed, color and religion.
“The court is a place where it doesn’t matter who you are, you should get treated fairly,” she said.