Michigan's Nine Million Dollar Black Robe - Justice For Some (likely not YOU)

The Nine Million Dollar Black Robe — Michigan’s High (Fashion) Court

Michigan may be in an economic perma-funk, but it is rapidly emerging as the high fashion capitol of the rust-belt.
And the little black robe is all the rage.
Just in – the 2012 television ad dollars on judicial races in the mitten state rang-up to a total of around $9M, comprising slightly over 30 percent of all national spending combined. It’s shocking enough that nearly $29,701,040 is poured into attempts to buy black robes across our nation, but Michigan, a state that’s been in a depression for over a decade, really knows how to strut down the runway. Fashion hungry Michigan consumers eagerly gobbled-up over 16,000 judicial-related television spots over the past few months.
It’s not as if this is a new trend – Michigan holds the title for hosting the most expensive judicial race in history, shelling-out over $5M in 2010 for one set of shiny black duds. Geez, even Dorothy’s ruby slippers went for a mere $15,000. The average Oscar runway look only runs a bargain-basement $75,000 per glitterati. Yet Michigan Supreme Court robes are simply the height of haute couture and are taking the state’s corporatocracy by storm — a ”must have” item for every CEO’s closet. After all, you can hide a lot behind those billowing garments.
And they do.
In a previous report on the high court, Democracy Tree found the following:
With 63% of Michigan voters believing that campaign money influences judicial decision making, it seems voters are not naive after all. The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports in The New Politics of Judicial Elections in the Great Lakes States, that 86% of cases before the Michigan Supreme Court involved one or more campaign contributors to one or more of the justices. And, that’s just the money we know about because it’s been properly reported under the rules set forth in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. However, the overwhelming bulk of the money is spent by shadowy third-parties on issue ads, of whom we know virtually nothing.
While Michigan’s former middle-class is left to picking-over “gently worn” clothes at their local resale shop, they can at least look up to the Supreme court and know that their rights are in the hands of well-dressed men and women wearing the hottest corporate labels.

Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project

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