The Balance of Power is about to Shift

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver to resign

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver will announce her resignation today, giving Gov. Jennifer Granholm the opportunity to appoint a replacement and tip the majority on the court from Republican to Democrat.

Weaver, of Glen Arbor, told her local newspaper for a story published this morning that Granholm has agreed to appoint an independent-minded northern Michigan judge, and said her first choice is Appeals Court Judge Alton Davis.

Granholm has scheduled a news conference for noon in Lansing.

Weaver’s surprise announcement came after years of public rancor on the court that pitted her against the other Republican-nominated justices, Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr. (and former Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, who lost his re-election bid in 2008). Five years ago, she announced her intention to resign, but subsequently changed her mind.

Weaver, a lifelong Republican, was preparing to run for re-election this year as an independent.

The resignation will give Democrats at least a temporary majority on the court after more than a decade of Republican dominance.

It also further clouds this year’s Supreme Court election picture. State Republicans and Democrats both meet in convention this weekend to nominate justices for two seats on the court, those held by Weaver and Young.

Young is expected to be re-nominated, along with either Wayne County Judge Mary Beth Kelly or Appeals Judge Jane Markey. Democratic hopefuls include Oakland County Judge Denise Lankford Morris, Wayne County judges Robert Colombo Jr. and Deborah Thomas and Southfield District Judge Sheila Johnson.

Robert Labrant, vice president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce who has directed the chamber’s efforts to secure a pro-business majority on the court, said Weaver’s decision could deliver a crushing blow to the GOP’s hope of retaining a majority on the court in 2011.

If her replacement receives the incumbency designation on the ballot, which Labrant said he believes is likely, it will be “very difficult” to regain the seat, he said.

via The Detroit Free Press

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