Michigan Supreme Court blesses a woke inquisition: Justice must take a back seat now to “diversity, equity, and inclusion”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Incorporating the depraved racial ideology of the woke Left into the fabric of state courts is abominable, a Michigan Supreme Court justice argued as his impassioned pleas against creating a modern judicial inquisition to enforce wokeness on the bench fell on deaf ears.

Justice David Viviano was weighing in on the court’s profoundly un-American Administrative Order No. 2022-1 of January 5 that created a commission “with the initial goal of exploring issues related to the demographics of the workforce that support our judiciary and training within the judicial branches.”

Viviano dissented from a recent majority opinion creating the commission to weave the leftist holy trinity known as DEI –diversity, equity, and inclusion— into Michigan’s judicial system.

The stated mission of this new inquisition, the 24-member Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Michigan Judiciary, is “to assess and work towards elimination of demographic and other disparities within the Michigan judiciary and justice system,” the order states.

According to the order, the commission came out of the work of a DEI Committee that was formed in January 2021 “with the initial goal of exploring issues related to the demographics of the workforce that support our judiciary and training within the judicial branches.” Over time the committee’s “work grew to include exploration of other topics that impact our communities.”

The commission, the order continues, will develop policies and standards to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, assist in eliminating disparities within the justice system, assist local courts in implementing DEI-related plans, and “increase participation of members from under-represented communities in judicial branch leadership.”

But Viviano, whose dissent was joined by Justice Brian Zahra, sounded the alarm, writing that diversity, equity, and inclusion is “a catchphrase that is politically fraught—and for that reason alone should be approached with extreme caution by the judicial branch.”

Despite “an expansive purpose statement,” the order “nowhere establishes the scope or meaning of the critical terms, ‘diversity,’ ‘equity,’ and ‘inclusion,’” Viviano wrote.

“It is no small thing to leave unstated the meaning of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’,” he wrote. “This catchphrase occupies disputed terrain in our politically polarized society.”

“I am concerned that the Commission will endow these core concepts with meanings that will produce heated disputes and call into question the judiciary’s neutrality,” he wrote.

“The way to be equitable, diverse, and inclusive is to stop taking account of race and other protected characteristics,” Viviano wrote.

“By plunging ahead, I believe that this Court, and the commission it creates today, will serve only to engender conflict and undermine the public’s faith in the judicial branch as impartial arbiters.”

A useful idiot on the court dismissed Viviano’s objections.

Punctuating her prose with empty politically correct rhetoric, Justice Elizabeth Welch argued in her opinion concurring with the order that her dissenting colleagues’ fears were unfounded.

Welch, of course, is a Democrat on the Michigan Supreme Court, whose seven members are  elected by the public. And she has a vested interest in pushing the commission, which she has been named to co-chair.

The other Democrats are Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh. Justice Elizabeth Clement is a Republican.

The two dissenters both have ties to Michigan’s Hillsdale College, an independent academic oasis of patriotic education and traditional constitutionalist thinking.

Viviano, a Republican, earned his bachelor of arts degree from Hillsdale in 1994.

“I find myself using what we all learned at Hillsdale about the founding principles set by our founding fathers, the separation of powers, and idea of individual liberty,” Viviano told the college’s newspaper in 2014.

Zahra, also a Republican, serves as the judicial advisor to Hillsdale’s Federalist Society chapter.

Welch justified the inquisition by writing that the DEI Committee spent “hundreds of hours meeting and working with the State Court Administrative Office, the State Bar of Michigan, individual members of the bench and bar, various other stakeholders, and representatives of commissions created in other states.”

The recommendation to create the commission was based “not merely on the work completed over the last year, but also on decades of prior research and recommendations, including those of the 1987 Supreme Court Task Force on Gender Issues in the Courts, the 1987 Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Courts, the 1996 State Bar of Michigan Task Force on Race/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession, the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts (of which Michigan is a founding member), the National Center for State Courts, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the Conference of State Court Administrators.”

Welch claimed the “[l]eadership in these varied groups has been nonpartisan and includes judges of different ideologies from around the nation.”

“Over the decades, all of these bodies have called on state courts to do more and to take direct action to ensure that the courts, as institutions existing for the benefit of the people, reflect the people they serve,” she wrote.

Welch added that decades ago the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 1990-3, which directed “[t]hat judges, employees of the judicial system, attorneys and other court officers commit themselves to the elimination of racial, ethnic and gender discrimination in the Michigan judicial system.”

“Despite calls for change over 30 years ago, ongoing internal work, and the growing number of voices calling on the Courts to take a lead on DEI issues, it was not until now that our Court has finally and publicly taken that next necessary step,” Welch wrote.

Viviano pointed out in his dissent that the DEI Committee has already inflicted damage on the judicial system. The committee recommended adopting a questionnaire to be used on would-be judges that solicits information about the individual’s experience and training in DEI and includes DEI as a competency to be assessed in the selection process. The State Court Administrative Office now operates using the suggested policy and the questionnaire is a reality, he wrote.

“Two of the 10 questions now involve ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ including one that asks the applicant to describe how he or she has ‘demonstrate[d] alignment with the judiciary’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion[,]’” Viviano wrote, describing an ideological purity test.

Welch claimed she shares Viviano’s dedication to safeguarding the court’s neutrality, but she “struggles to understand how creating a more inclusive and welcoming workplace or court system fails to achieve those goals.”

“This new commission will assist the Court in recognizing its deficiencies and blind spots as an institution and an employer,” Welch wrote. “It is only with this knowledge that we can begin visualizing and building a judiciary that is more reflective of and better situated to serve the people of Michigan.”

Welch bragged in a candidate biography that she has “worked extensively as an unpaid advocate on issues involving conservation, voting rights, and public education.” Her past service included working for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and doing election protection work with NAACP WIN,” also known as the Women in NAACP Committee.

It’s no surprise that someone like Welch lacks the capacity to understand that race should not be a consideration in the judicial process.

No wonder this unfit justice voted to create a taxpayer-funded commission that will poison her state’s judicial system and bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

This article by Matthew Vadum appeared Jan. 18, 2022, at FrontPageMag.