Letters to the Editor

Justice Nobody

Your article on the Supreme Court race ("Justice at any price," MT, Oct. 11-17) could have looked into the working of the court. The Engler-appointed Justices on the Michigan Supreme Court who are running for election (Markman, Taylor and Young) are hypocrites. They preach personal responsibility, but do not practice it.

Our Supreme Court makes the law by authoring opinions for which the justices take responsibility by writing and signing them. Years ago, the court developed a way to issue opinions when there was no significant disagreement: the per curiam opinion. These are drafted by clerks/commissioners. No justice takes personal responsibility for authoring them. The justices just "concur." Who authors the per curiams? Justice Nobody.

Engler's appointees fail to take responsibility for an alarming percentage of opinions. Compare the 29 Per Curiams (including one memorandum) in 1999 to the outputs of the justices:

Kelly, 27; Cavanaugh, 21; Brickley (announced retirement in September, 1999), 14; Taylor, 13; Corrigan, 7; Young, 6; Weaver, 6; Markman (appointed in September, sworn in in November), 1.

Justice Nobody wrote five times as many opinions as Young, and twice as many as Taylor. How dare they preach personal responsibility when they will not take personal responsibility for their jobs: authoring the opinions.

This year is even worse. Of the first 37 opinions, 24 (65 percent) were by Justice Nobody. The last nine opinions were authored by Justice Nobody. When the campaign heats up, Justice Nobody takes over.

We deserve more. If the incumbent justices took more personal responsibility for their opinions, maybe they wouldn't always rule against working families.

The fifth-highest paid state Supreme Court Justices in the nation, our justices receive $140,816 per year. Kelly only costs us $5,215 per opinion, a bargain in comparison to $10,832 for each of Taylor's opinions. In 1999, we had to shell out $23,469 for each of Young's opinions.

If Young wants to bill a client $23,469 per essay, let him bill insurance company clients that can afford those fees. Michigan citizens cannot.

We need justices who will do the job they took an oath to do. Get rid of our hypocritical incumbents. —Lee Tilson, Detroit

Bad Neighborhood

The Neighborhood Services Organization ("News Hits," MT, Oct. 11-17) would better serve its clients by closing down its walk-in center altogether. Although it has very recently made an effort to clean up the corner of Martin Luther King and Third, the NSO has never before made any effort to extend to its clients the simplest consideration any public service organization can offer: dignity.

It is unconscionable that even one penny of tax money be given to an organization that benefits from counting heads and pushing paper. Everyone in this city — indeed, state — needs to question why a drug treatment and prevention center that is content to warehouse and neglect its clients is the best civil society can offer. —Jim Young, Detroit

Why we don’t vote

I’m 18 and attend Grand Valley State University. In Jack Lessenberry’s, "Nader, the Debates, and You," (MT, Oct. 11-17), he seemed confused as to why so many under-25's don't vote. Some don't feel their voices will be heard, some may not care. But my reason for not voting is different. It's extremely difficult for teenagers away at school to vote. I registered to vote by mail and requested an absentee ballot. On Oct. 9, I was notified that to vote by absentee ballot, I would have to pick it up in person, by the next day (Oct. 10). Grand Valley is three-and-a-half hours away from Sterling Heights, so there was no way I could make the trip. It was just too much of a hassle to get my vote out there. This is a major reason why many 18-25-year-olds do not vote. Many are away at school, and think voting is such a hassle that it takes up way too much time and thought. Three of my friends and I were interviewed for a local TV station about this very topic, and the reason my friend Nick gave to the reporters sums it up: "I'm too busy to deal with the process you have to go through in order to vote." —Elizabeth C., Sterling Heights

Jack Lessenberry responds: Agreed, it should be easier to register and vote. And as long as people like you don't vote, they'll keep it that way. But I also know how much time trouble your generation — and mine — is often willing to put up with in order to get really good concert tickets.

In 1964 three college students about your age were tortured and murdered in this country because they thought everyone should have the right to vote. Their names were James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. You might think about that, as you sit on your hands.


In last week’s story, "Crazy Politics," the name of Hamtramck Citizen reporter Walter Wasacz was misspelled. Additionally, a recent Attention Span item about the Powerpuff Girls and their merchandise ("Future feminists," MT, Oct. 4-10) should have said that Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup tangle with criminals on the Cartoon Network.

About The Author

Metro Times Staff

Since 1980, Metro Times has been Detroit’s premier alternative source for news, arts, culture, music, film, food, fashion and more from a liberal point of view.
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