© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Candidate Info: Samuel Bagenstos, Michigan Supreme Court

The Bagenstos for Justice campaign

WEMU offered the opportunity for any candidate appearing on a ballot in Washtenaw County in the 2018 general election to submit a campaign message directly to our audience.  Samuel Bagenstos is running for Michigan Supreme Court as a nonpartisan.  What follows are the audio and remarks the candidate wanted to share with you.

Thanks for listening.  I’m Samuel Bagenstos.  I’m a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.

I’ve been nominated by the Democratic Party, but you won’t see that on the ballot.  You see, Supreme Court candidates in Michigan run on the part of the ballot known as the “Nonpartisan Section.”

That name is a bit misleading.  Each of the candidates for Supreme Court was nominated by a political party.  What “Nonpartisan Section” means is that the ballot hides that information from the voters.

So when you go to the part of the ballot that lists Supreme Court candidates, you’ll just see a bunch of names – with no Ds or Rs after them.  Two of those names will say “Justice of the Supreme Court” next to them.  Those are the Rick-Snyder-appointed incumbents. 

My name, Samuel Bagenstos, won’t have anything next to it – nothing to indicate that I was nominated by the Democratic Party.  So you just have to remember my name, Samuel Bagenstos.

I’m running because the courts play a crucial role in protecting our basic rights – and the Michigan Supreme Court is poised to play an even more important role in the years to come.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s incredible number of appointments, the federal courts will be in conservative hands for a generation.  I’ve been a civil rights lawyer for nearly 25 years, and we’ve always looked to the federal courts to protect our rights.  But Trump’s appointments mean we won’t be able to do that anymore.

That will make the state courts much more important.  Over the next few years, the Michigan Supreme Court will be poised to decide key issues about workers’ rights, women’s reproductive freedom, LGBT rights, our rights to a clean environment, and much more.

Unfortunately, for the past two decades the court has tilted decidedly to the right.  Appointees of Rick Snyder and John Engler currently have a 5-to-2 majority on the court.  With the two most recent Snyder appointees up for election for the first time this fall, we can flip the court to a 4-to-3 progressive majority.

That’s why I, Samuel Bagenstos, am asking for your vote.

I’m a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and I’ve been a civil rights lawyer for my whole career.  I was a law clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court.  During the first part of the Obama Administration, I served as an appointee under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder helping to lead civil rights enforcement in the Department of Justice.

I have argued cases in trial and appellate courts across the country, including arguing four cases in the Supreme Court of the United States.  I’ve won important precedents for voting rights, workers’ rights, the rights of people with disabilities, and many more.

I am especially proud of my work for the people of Flint.  Flint residents sued Rick Snyder, his appointees, and other government officials to seek accountability for constitutional violations from the Flint Water Crisis.  But a federal judge threw them out of court.  I took their case to the federal court of appeals, got the judge’s decision reversed, and won the Flint residents their day in court.  We know we have a long way to go before the people of Flint receive justice.  But they are now one step closer.

That’s the kind of work that I, Samuel Bagenstos, have done throughout my career.  I have fought for the rights of real people.  I have helped to amplify their voices.  And I have won important battles for them. 

What our courts need right now are judges who are willing to stand up for people’s rights.  I have been doing that for nearly 25 years.

That’s why I hope you will consider voting for me, Samuel Bagenstos, for the Michigan Supreme Court.  Remember to look for me on the “Nonpartisan Section” of the ballot.  And remember that there are no Ds or Rs, so you have to look for my name, Samuel Bagenstos.

Thank you for listening, and I wish you all the best.

My website address is http://www.BagenstosForJustice.com.