Rewriting a State Constitution for Partisan Advantage:

When I first heard about the ballot initiative sponsored by Reform Michigan Government Now, I assumed it was just an aggressive effort to make several progressive state constitutional reforms in one fell swoop. Then I looked into it a little more — largely because I was curious about the proposed revisions to the composition of the state judiciary — and was a bit taken aback. Among other things the plan would eliminate two seats on the State Supreme Court and several more on the state Courts of Appeals, but increase the number of state trial judges. Each of these reforms would operate so as to increase the proportion of Democrat-appointed judges on the bench, which is, to the least, a bit curious. Then a strategy document prepared for initiative proponents was discovered, and it all fit into place. The ballot initiative is, at heart, a stealth effort to reform the Michigan state constitution, and shift control of the state courts, for partisan advantage. I discuss the plan in more detail in this NRO column.

There's one interesting development I do not discuss in the column. Initiative opponents are mounting a legal challenge to keep the initiative off the ballot. Among other things, they argue that there is no way to accurately summarize the 19,500-word initiative in 100 words, as required by state law. Initiative proponents defend their efforts, arguing among other things, that state judges should not hear the case because they have a "conflict of interest" due to the fact that some state judges would lose their positions inf the measure passes. What an ingenious argument to evade judicial review!

[Typos fixed — ah the dangers of blogging in an airport.]