MHA Race of the Week – Michigan Supreme Court

Posted on October 15, 2020

The MHA Race of the Week series highlights the most pivotal statewide races for Election 2020. The series will provide hospitals and healthcare advocates with the resources they need to make informed decisions on Election Day, including candidates’ views and background.

MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT

This week’s MHA Race of the Week provides information on one of the most critical general election races: the Michigan Supreme Court. This judicial body is the cornerstone of Michigan’s legal system and is responsible for the general administrative supervision of all courts in the state. Every year, the Michigan Supreme Court reviews more than 2,000 cases, and its role in the application of law is crucial to Michigan residents. The decisions of these leaders often impact the community directly, as seen with recent rulings against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders related to COVID-19.

There are four candidates running for two terms during this year’s election: incumbent Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Elizabeth Welch were nominated by the Democratic Party, and Mary Kelly and Judge Brock Swartzle were nominated by the Republican Party.

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2012 and became Chief Justice in January 2019. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court, she was a law professor and dean at the University of Michigan Law School. For more information, visit bridgetmarymccormack.com.

Elizabeth Welch has a 25-year legal career as an attorney serving individuals, nonprofits and small businesses specializing in employment law.  She previously served as vice president of the East Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education and president of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. For more information, visit welchforjustice.com.

Mary Kelly has served over 30 years as a prosecutor in St. Clair County, while also having experience in private practice as a general practitioner with emphasis on domestic matters, civil litigation and criminal matters. She also has previously served on the Mercy Hospital Finance Board. For more information, visit marykellyforjustice.com.

Judge Brock Swartzle was appointed to the state appeals court by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2017 and won election in 2018. Prior to that, Swartzle was chief of staff for the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, as well as general counsel for the House, where he worked on numerous legal and policy issues, including the Detroit bankruptcy settlement package. For more information, visit brockforjustice.com.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Michigan Supreme Court may consider cases that have significant implications for medical liability laws that the healthcare community fought to have enacted in the 1990s. These laws established reasonable limitations on noneconomic damages, more specific criteria for expert witness testimony, and other common-sense measures that made liability insurance more affordable and significantly reduced frivolous lawsuits that were increasing healthcare costs and impeding doctors. The reforms allow scarce resources to be directed toward patient care and new staff recruitment rather than into the legal system. Erosion or elimination of these reforms would return Michigan to the medical liability crisis experienced in the 1990s, rather than allowing the state to move forward as a national center of excellence for healthcare.

CONCLUSION

The MHA typically favors a more conservative-leaning Michigan Supreme Court to support preserving medical liability reforms, since an unfriendly liability climate hinders hospitals’ ability to recruit and retain physicians, particularly in rural communities and urban centers and in certain specialties such as obstetrics/gynecology.

For more election information and updates or to request Election 2020 informational materials, visit the MHA Election webpage or email election@mha.org. Join the MHA in talking about Election 2020 on social media using #MIVoteMatters.


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  • MHA Race of the Week – Michigan Supreme Court

Tags: MHA Race of the Week, MI Vote Matters, Election 2020, Bridget McCormack, Elizabeth Welch, Mary Kelly, Brock Swartzle

Posted in: Top Issues - Healthcare

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