JUSTICE JOAN for Michigan Supreme Court.

Judicial Philosophy

My judicial philosophy is simple:  judges should interpret the laws according to what they say, not according to what the judges wish they would say.  Judges are supposed to interpret the laws; they are not supposed to make them.

The separation of powers, enshrined in both our national and state Constitutions, protects the People’s right to self-governance by allowing the elected representatives of the People to make the laws.  Judges, like everyone else, are bound by those laws and must faithfully interpret them rather than re-writing them from the bench.  Judges, after all, are the public’s servants, not the public’s masters.

At the same time, judges must ensure that the actions of government do not exceed their constitutional boundaries or interfere with the People’s constitutional rights.  Judges must keep government in check by faithfully applying the texts of the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Michigan.

I believe in equal justice under the law.   The iconic statue of Lady Justice is blind for a reason:  Judges must treat every litigant equally and judge every case fairly and without bias.  Only the law and the facts of the case should determine a judge’s ruling.  

I believe in civility.  Everyone who appears in our courtrooms –litigants, lawyers, and judges — deserves to have his or her  arguments heard and to be treated with respect.  People only come to court when they disagree.  But we should not let disagreements make us disagreeable.  Judges can and should set the tone by being courteous to each other and to those who appear before us.     

It is an honor to serve the People of Michigan as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.