FEBRUARY 18, 1999
CHIEF JUSTICE WEAVER: Good afternoon, you may be seated. Isn’t this just a magnificent gathering. It is such a happy occasion for us to be able to welcome officially to the Michigan Supreme Court our newest Justice, ROBERT P. YOUNG. I can tell you that he is a hard worker. We already have had a session of oral argument, his questions are prepared, interesting, and right to the point. With no further ado, I want to welcome our moderator for this afternoon, Ms. Beth DunCombe.
MS. BETH DUNCOMBE: Thank you, Justice WEAVER. I would like to congratulate you as our new Chief Justice, and I would like to welcome all the justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, Governor Engler, Mayor Archer, the judges of the Court of Appeals, and judges of many Michigan courts, to Detroit and to the Gem Theater.
I also would like to welcome all the clergy who are present, the family of Justice YOUNG, and the distinguished audience we have here today. It is a pleasure to welcome you to the investiture of my friend, ROBERT PRESTON YOUNG. I cannot help but comment on the beautiful setting this Gem Theater gives us here today, and I would like everyone to give a round of applause for Chuck and Jim Forbes, who were gracious enough to allow us to use this facility.
[The pledge was recited.]
Thank you, Barrett. If we could have Reverend Nicholas Hood III join us here at the podium. Reverend Hood is pastor of the Plymouth United Church of Christ and is a member of the Detroit Common Council. He is also Justice YOUNG’s pastor.
REVEREND HOOD: Let us pray. Oh, Lord our God how excellent is Thy name. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. For, a thousand years in Thy sight is like yesterday when it is passed are like a watch in the night. This day, Oh, Lord God, we ask your greatest blessing upon your servant, ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR. Oh, Lord God, we thank you for the curious pilgrimage which has brought him to this time and this place in his life. We thank you, Lord God, for the wisdom of our Governor for appointing him to the Supreme Court, and we pray, Oh Lord, that his participation as a member, as a justice of the Supreme Court might be blessing on many, many levels. We pray, Oh Lord God, that you might continue to bless him with wisdom. Bless him, Oh Lord God, with a temperate spirit. Bless him, Oh Lord God, with a sensitivity for the poor, the tired, and the hungry; and we pray that we, the citizens of the state of Michigan, might be the beneficiaries of this good justice’s work. These and other blessings we pray through Christ, our Rock, and our Redeemer. Amen.
MS. DUNCOMBE: And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. If Justice YOUNG and his family would come forward, and if the Honorable Damon Keith, judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals would come forward.
JUDGE KEITH: Thank you, Beth. Before I administer the oath to my friend, Judge ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR., Governor Engler I want to thank you for appointing Justice YOUNG. And I also want to thank you for appointing Judge WILDER and Judge COLLINS. Now some people would call this affirmative action, some people would give any other name to it. I just thought that you were zeroing in, but I want to thank you. It’s the first time that I know of in the history of this state where a governor has appointed a black justice to the State Supreme Court and two blacks to the Court of Appeals for the State of Michigan, and I want to say Governor Engler you are to be commended for it for you did the right thing and I applaud you.
Judge YOUNG, will you raise your right hand and give your full name?
JUDGE YOUNG: I, ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR.,
JUDGE KEITH: . . . do solemnly swear . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . do solemnly swear . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . that I will support the Constitution of the United States . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . that I will support the Constitution of the United States . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . and the Constitution of the State of Michigan . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . and the Constitution of the State of Michigan . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . to the best of my ability.
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . to the best of my ability.
JUDGE KEITH: And I will perform the duties . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: And I will perform the duties . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . as a justice . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . as a justice . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . of the Supreme Court . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . of the Supreme Court . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . of the State of Michigan . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . of the State of Michigan . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . to the best of my ability . . .
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . to the best of my ability . . .
JUDGE KEITH: . . . so help me, God.
JUDGE YOUNG: . . . so help me, God.
JUDGE KEITH: Congratulations.
JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you very much.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Justice YOUNG requested that the speakers today keep their remarks short and that we should also maintain the dignity of the occasion. I believe this message was really meant to be “don’t tell any tales out of school,” and, Justice YOUNG, have no fear we will not do that. We all really do respect and love you and share this occasion with you with pride and admiration. Each of the speakers today knows Justice YOUNG from different aspects of his life. However, there is a common thread among all his relationships. You will see that each relationship is one in which Justice YOUNG gives of himself unselfishly to young people and to not-so-young people in a mentoring and advisory fashion. He is a great listener with an uncommon wit. I had the pleasure of meeting Justice YOUNG when he was sixteen years old and we both had summer jobs at a local hospital. Although I do not remember him smoking a pipe at that time or wearing a bow tie, I do remember that I needed a dictionary to understand what that little kid was saying. And nothing has changed. I, with amusement, looked at the remarks that he made in Lansing at the announcement of his appointment, and he spoke about wanting to have or provide opinions that have clarity and great understanding, and I kept thinking, “as long as you have a dictionary with you.” With that, I will turn the podium over to Harriet Rotter, who is an Oakland County practicing lawyer, a dear friend of Justice YOUNG, and served on the Central Michigan University Board with Justice YOUNG.
MS. ROTTER: Madame Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court, members of the judiciary, Governor Engler, Mayor Archer, family and friends of Justice YOUNG. What an honor and privilege it is to be speaking to you today. But right about now you might be asking yourselves, why me? The answer is because Justice YOUNG and I have so much in common. First, we were both raised right here in Detroit. Bob was born in 1951, I, in . . . well, 1951 sounds like a good year. I know you think Bob looks older than me. And we were both educated in Detroit public elementary schools. In fact, at one time we both attended the same one, Hampton School on the corner of Warrington and Pickford. Second, we both went out of state to college, Bob to Cambridge, Massachusetts, I, to Evanston, Illinois. Third, we both went to law school, and we graduated in the mid-1970’s. Thereafter, we both practiced law in offices where most of the other lawyers did not look like either one of us. Fourth, we both married our youthful sweethearts, who both went to medical school, did internships, and finished residency programs. In fact, our spouses are both doctors who specialize in heads. Linda is a psychiatrist; Norm is a neurosurgeon. Consequently, both Bob and I have spent considerable time at hospital staff dinner dances, both grateful for each other’s company to discuss the law instead of medicine, both hearing our spouses defined as saint-like, and both of us continually wondering why. Fifth, we have produced only male children. Robert and Barrett and my three sons have given us many common parenting experiences. Sixth, both of us like hanging out in fine Detroit restaurants, Opus I, in particular. And finally, we were both appointed by Governor Engler to the Board of Trustees of Central Michigan University, where we worked together for four years until Bob was appointed to the Court of Appeals.
But after all we have in common, I want to tell you about our one big difference. I love politics, elections, campaigns, and fundraising. Bob does not share my enthusiasm. When, shortly after his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he faced his first election, I offered to host a fundraiser. “Who’ll come?,” said Bob. “Not to worry,” said I. “They can’t be asked to contribute more than $100,” said Bob. “Not to worry,” said I. “I have no signs,” said Bob. “Not to worry,” said I, remembering all the Judge Young signs I had in my garage left over from the last Judge Joe Young campaign. Secretly, I had at least a tiny worry, and so I asked Governor Engler if he would come as a special guest, and the Governor said yes. When the event came, it was packed with people, and to this day I am not sure that Bob realizes that at least some of them were there to meet and greet the special guest, our Governor, rather than the candidate. Thus, the fundraiser was successful and the election was successful, and as the electorate came to know and respect and admire Bob and his judicial philosophy, Bob not only won that election, he came in first. And the last few years have totally validated the voters’ choice.
As a Court of Appeals judge, Bob YOUNG has fine-tuned his judicial philosophy. He respects the tripartite system of government and does not make policy. He is keenly aware of the fact that the courts’ decisions have to be understood and applied by real live human beings and, thus, not withstanding the fact that he has larger vocabulary than anyone else, his judicial opinions are written in clear English and are designed to ensure that the law must be applied equally and fairly to all.
And that brings us to today. Thank you, Governor Engler, for this splendid appointment to Michigan’s highest court. Throughout your term as Governor you have consistently chosen the best and the brightest to serve as judges, but you have surely peaked with your selection of Justice ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR. When Bob honored me by selecting me to speak today, I accepted enthusiastically with only one proviso. I want him to guarantee me a seat at his investiture to the United States Supreme Court, an event that is destined to occur in my lifetime. And so, my dear friend Bob, as you undertake this awesome responsibility of serving as justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, I want you to remember that the rabbinate sages teach us that the world is sustained by three things: by justice, by truth, and by peace. And I leave you with the beautiful Hebrew words of the Biblical commandment, Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof! Justice, justice, shall you pursue! Congratulations, lots and lots of love and God bless you always.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Thank you so much for those wonderful words. Another friend of Robert’s is Edsel Ford, who doesn’t need to be introduced in terms of who he is, but in terms of his relationship with Bob. I understand they were on the board of Detroit Institute for Children. Mayor Archer has recently appointed Edsel Ford to be Chair of the Detroit 300 Committee.
MR. FORD: Thank you, Beth. Madame Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court, Governor Engler, Mayor Archer, justices, ladies, and gentlemen. I am delighted to have the opportunity to honor Bob YOUNG on his elevation to the Michigan Supreme Court. Anna Quinlan once said, “A good parent remembers what it is like to be a child.” And a good judge remembers what it was like to be a lawyer. I know Bob will not forget either one. I had the privilege of working with Bob for several years on the board of the Detroit Institute for Children. It was during a very difficult time of dramatic management changes. With clear compassion, he helped guide the DIC through some extremely difficult decisions. Yet, on one issue I do have to question Bob’s judgment. Many times over several years I have pleaded with him to switch from driving brand X to a Ford or a Lincoln. My pleadings fell on deaf ears, but maybe that also qualifies him for the high court for it was Supreme Court Justice Marshall who said the most important trait a judge must have is “to look a lawyer straight in the face for two solid hours and not hear a damn word he says.” Clearly those are the judicial skills Bob employed in not hearing my sales pitches. So other than that one small minor judicial blind spot, I have to say that the people of Michigan are truly fortunate in having ROBERT PRESTON YOUNG, JR., appointed a Michigan Supreme Court justice. Congratulations, Bob.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Our next speaker, Mayor Dennis Archer, does not need to be introduced, but for some of you who may not know this, Justice YOUNG and Mayor Archer used to be law partners, and so there is a special friendship there also.
MAYOR ARCHER: Beth, thank you very much. Madame Chief Justice and members of the Michigan Supreme Court, members of all our benches who are represented here today, reverend clergy, members of the Bar, elected and appointed officials, and former colleagues who are here from Dickinson Wright, the AAA, and the Michigan Court of Appeals, and his family and friends, I am delighted to be here at this investiture on behalf of ROBERT YOUNG. I am pleased to tell you that as we have worked together as law partners, I found him to be brilliant. He had excellent skill, a great work ethic, and great judicial temperament. And so it is appropriate and fitting as the Governor looked around to find the very best qualified with the most experience that he chose ROBERT YOUNG from the ranks of the bench and bar to be his next appointee to the Michigan Supreme Court.
He chose well because he is very well prepared to do justice and to do the work of the Michigan Supreme Court. Bob, you come at a time when we, in the far past and in the recent past, have lost some giants. I think of Wade McCree, who was on the Wayne Circuit Court, went to the federal bench, and then was Solicitor General. A great orator, a person who wrote in prose. I think about Mr. Justice Thurgood Marshall and what he meant on the United States Supreme Court, with his opinions, his brilliance, his outreach, never forgetting where he came from, and recently Judge Leon Higgenbottom, a person who has written so many books and has made so much of a mark in our profession. And then, of course, you are favored, as I was when I was sworn in, to have “the man,” “the judge,” I refer to Damon Keith who is a living legend and has done so much for our profession. He, too, swore me in. We share another commonality, that is to say, that you are being invested here at the Gem Theater. I made my announcement here, and I was introduced by another jurist by the name of George Crockett. So in this profession that we all share, you have an enormous responsibility and undertaking, one in which I know you will do a fine job. But despite what all your friends and admirers think, ultimately it will be up to the voters, and they will want to know what you wrote, what were your opinions, and who you are. You cannot as an elected person on the bench promise anything. All you can promise to do is to be fair, that you will listen, and that you will apply the law to the facts, and that is somewhat challenging when you would like to say more. So I would just give you a thoughtful suggestion so that you don’t offend anybody. If anybody asks you your favorite color just simply say plaid.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Our next speaker may be, from some points of view, new on the scene, but certainly our new Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm, has not been new on the scene with Justice YOUNG. I think they met when Jennifer was a law student. One of the things that some of you may not know is that on his own time, with no political aspirations, Robert tutored law students at Wayne State. He has always given of himself to young people, and even though, Jennifer, we don’t want to admit that you might be a little younger than we, we count you as one of those young people. I would like to introduce to you Michigan’s new Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm.
MS. GRANHOLM: Bob, it is really a pleasure and an honor to be here. Who’d of thunk it? You know, in 1985 maybe 1984, I was a student at Harvard Law School and Bob YOUNG comes, bow tie and all, to Harvard to recruit the students to come to Dickinson Wright. And I like to say, Bob, that next to my husband you are single handedly responsible for making me come to Michigan. But I won’t tell him that. I just left the Wade McCree luncheon, which is a Federal Bar Association luncheon honoring Judge McCree, and his daughter was there and asked me to pass a message along to you. She said that, next to her father, you are the jurist with the best vocabulary she has ever heard. But, of course, she didn’t know that all the other justices of this Supreme Court were going to be here, so I’m sure she would have included you all in that too. Governor, I think that you have simply made an excellent choice here. Bob YOUNG is a man of tremendous talent and assiduousness. He is an unbelievably fair person. And I know he will be a rich, wonderful, thoughtful, and fair asset to the Supreme Court of Michigan. Congratulations, Bob.
MS. DUNCOMBE: There’s been a lot of mention this afternoon about the man that made it happen and certainly our Governor John Engler needs no introduction, but I do want to also congratulate him on his splendid selection and thank him also for putting Bob on the Michigan Court of Appeals for his first dry run as a jurist. I know he did a fine job there, and we expect a lot of him here—and I know you do, too, Governor. Our Governor, John Engler.
GOVERNOR ENGLER: Thank you very much, Beth. Madame Chief Justice and justices of the Supreme Court, judges of Michigan’s many courts, Mayor Archer, and Judge Keith. It’s easy to make the kind of appointments that I have been privileged to make with the talent we have in the state. I’m just proud of the service and thank you very much for your kind words. To all of Bob YOUNG’s friends and colleagues, I’m honored to be invited as well, to be able to share in a very special ceremony, joined by these men and women, Bob, who respect you and admire your most impressive record of achievement.
The fact that Bob YOUNG was the right choice for the Michigan Supreme Court certainly was not reflected in the very warm words of those who preceded me to the podium today, but certainly in the outpouring and the presence of many dignitaries who have gathered in this beautiful theater to celebrate your elevation to the highest court. The respect of the people here, I think, is exceeded only perhaps by Bob’s own commitment to be the best in everything that he does. It was just a few weeks ago that the actual announcement was made that I would be appointing Bob to the Supreme Court, and we did a press conference together. Many of you have been through those, but Bob handled the media just like a seasoned pro. He was answering all the questions that were tossed at him from the Tim Scubics, you know, it was just like a seasoned pro. I mean it was really deft, wit, grace, charm. After the press conference was over, Bob looked at me and kind of smiled, and he said, “You know I really enjoyed that. Maybe I ought to look into running for governor.”
Seriously, I don’t need to remind this audience that Bob YOUNG has everything it takes and more to serve on our Supreme Court. He has the intellect. He has the experience. He has the temperament. He has the integrity. He certainly has the ability. My friends, Bob YOUNG has a passion for the law and a compassion for people that make him ideally suited for this challenge. Others have duly noted Bob’s accomplishments as an attorney, as a judge, as a father. It was years ago that Albert Schweitzer said this, “Example is not the main thing in life, it is the only thing.” Bob YOUNG is example. Justice YOUNG will make Michigan very proud. In his life and in his work he accepts nothing less than the best. He challenges the status quo. He embraces change, but he understands the importance of those things that do not change: our shared values of faith, family, and country.
I know how important Bob’s family has been in his life. When you talk about family and its significance, I recall some words that were spoken from Camp David a few years ago, and I quote, “We know that the secret of America’s success has been our drive to excel. A spirit born and nurtured by our families. With their dreams and hard work, they have built our nation, made her great, and kept her good. Everything we have accomplished began in those bedrock values parents have sought to impart throughout our history. Values of faith in God, honesty, caring for others, personal responsibility, thrift, and initiative.” President Reagan spoke those words in 1983, he didn’t know the Young family, but that does capture Bob’s family growing up, Bob’s family today, what he imparts to his children.
Certainly, in addition, Bob YOUNG is a brilliant scholar, learned in both the state and United States Constitutions. He understands the separation of powers and knows well the respective duties and responsibilities of each branch of government. Bob YOUNG understands it is the job of the Legislature to write the law, and the job of the judiciary to interpret it. Bob YOUNG will be a role model for judges, for lawyers. Webster’s defines a role model as a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others. We would do well to imitate Bob YOUNG. Bob, on behalf of the people of Michigan let me express our collective gratitude to you, now Justice YOUNG, for taking on the challenge of service on our state’s highest court. We also extend to Dr. Linda and to your sons our appreciation for your gift of sharing, Bob, with the people of this great state. Congratulations and Godspeed.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Well, what we have all been waiting for is for Justice ROBERT P. YOUNG to address us as the new justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Justice YOUNG.
JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you. Thank you for utterly baffling my children with that very warm welcome. I believe it customary following a eulogy that the honoree maintain his silence. It seems a pity to sully all these very kind remarks by breaking my own silence, but Reverend Hood, Reverend Vann, Chief Justice WEAVER, justices of the Supreme Court, Governor Engler, Attorney General Granholm, Mayor Archer, Judge Keith, Mr. Ford, and Miss Rotter, Beth DunCombe, thank you. I am so grateful for your participation in this event this afternoon.
I also welcome my former colleagues from the Court of Appeals, my judicial colleagues from the several state and federal courts, elected state and federal officials, and all my very special friends and family in attendance here today at the first Michigan Supreme Court cabaret. You honor me with your presence. I also want to thank Beth and the owners of the Gem Theater for allowing us to use this unique facility. It is aptly named, and it is one of Detroit’s gems. We are delighted that it was preserved, and I understand it is one of the first mobile theaters of its kind in the world. It is a profound honor to stand before my family, friends, and fellow citizens as the 102nd justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. I wish to acknowledge, as suggested in the gospel of St. Luke, the many blessings running over that God has literally put into my lap. An appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court surely represents one of the highest compliments that a lawyer can be paid.
Governor Engler, I again thank you for this wonderful opportunity to serve the people of Michigan on this state’s highest court.
I would like to pay special honor to my parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Young, if only for surviving the teenage years, but for providing a sterling model of hard work and commitment to one’s community and family. It was they who taught me that I should never give up or accept less than I was capable of achieving, and I hope that I will be as worthy a role model for my own two sons, Barrett and Robert, the two sons who are the center of my universe. And, frankly, more than any accomplishment that I might achieve on this Court, my two sons are my true legacy. I also want to acknowledge my brother, Michael, and sister, Judy, who are here today, who occasionally dare publicly to admit their relationship to me. I never did any of the things they accuse me of. And finally, I would like to recognize my wife who was my college sweetheart, whose father negligently entrusted her to my care, the first week—freshman week—and she has been my sweetheart and soul-mate ever since, Dr. Linda Hotchkiss. In a real sense, I am her work in process, which says nothing about her abilities as a psychiatrist, but only the difficulty of her subject.
I also want to give thanks to my extended family. I have a very large extended family sprinkled around this glorious facility. No one can get to a place like this without plenty of love and attention and affection, and I thank all of you publicly for that almost fifty years of support. I would like to thank, also, my court family, Mary Ann Cheslock, Brenda Finney, Phil DeRosier, David Williams, and Diana Ortiz. They make me look far better than I am. And I want to thank my mother, Beth DunCombe, and Mary Ann for shouldering most of the organizing work of this event. This has really been an undertaking, and I thank you so much for being willing to do so. And I would like to thank the Supreme Court Historical Society for their support in this venture.
Unfortunately this ceremony could not have been possible had my friend, the recently retired Chief Justice MALLETT, not chosen to reenter the private sector and rejoin his old firm, Miller Canfield. Justice MALLETT ably led this Court and the judicial branch of government during a very difficult time of change and reorganization. He did so with his accustomed grace, charm, and intelligence. I think we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his many accomplishments and contributions, and it is my great regret that I cannot serve on this Court with him.
I am particularly gratified to be appointed by you, Governor Engler, because I know you have actually read my decisions, and you would be surprised at how uncharacteristic it is that an appointing governor has ever read anything that their appointees have written. You fully understand how I approach the task of judging. While you know just what kind of justice or jurist you have chosen, many people of this state do not. Consequently, I would like to spend just a few moments to speak plainly about my reasons for joining the judiciary and my judicial philosophy. In so doing, I hope to inform my fellow citizens of what kind of justice I hope to be.
On a personal note, I joined the judiciary a few years ago at some personal financial sacrifice to my family, but I did so because I believe in public service and because of my passion for the law. I come from a family whose fairly recent history has not always included the faith that equality under law applied to us. Indeed, I share in common with Justice MALLETT the fact that for all our fancy education and professional attainments, when we remove our judicial robes our status is frequently uncertain. I am, however, proof positive and well understand that our society has made many advancements in providing opportunity for all. I also know that much work needs to be done. I hope to make an important constructive contribution to our collective effort. You can’t be who I am without being willing to take an unpopular course for the sake of a just principal.
I am, above all I think, fiercely independent, and I believe that the law must be applied equally and justly to all. Thus, as a judge, I have been willing to go it alone when I have concluded that the law requires a course different than that followed by my fellow judges. Having said this, I also believe, I hope that my former colleagues on the Court of Appeals will affirm, that I have been interested in understanding all points of view before arriving at a conclusion, and that if persuaded that my initial position is wrong, I have been willing to change my position. I hope that I have been and continue to be more interested in getting the law right than in being right. For the more than twenty years of my practice, I have been a consumer of the decisions of the Supreme Court, and for most of that time the Court has seemed to me to be less conscious that its decisions had to be applied by we mere mortals, by trial judges, lawyers, their clients, and the public at large, so that we could organize and plan our lives with a clear understanding of and conformity with the law, and frankly I decided to see whether I could make a difference. I have arrived so to speak, and after only six weeks as a justice I am even more acutely aware of the awesome responsibility of my office and more respectful of how hard it is simply to get it right.
We are, my six colleagues and I, literally the custodians of the law. What we do or what we fail to do has far-reaching implications, not only for the individuals whose cases are before us, but for everyone in the state. Our decisions are the final word and largely unreviewable. Unquestionably, we must ensure that the law is applied equally without respect to who a particular person is, but the merit of her cause, and we must similarly ensure that the constitutional liberties we have enshrined in our state and federal constitutions are enforced and vigorously protected. I am concerned that over a period of time the public has come to regard the judiciary as merely another public arena, an alternate forum in which to make public policy. However, our constitution assigns each of the three branches of government specific responsibilities, and each branch must jealously guard the boundaries that separate them. While the judiciary provides an important check on unconstitutional actions by the other two branches of government, I do not believe that the judiciary is an auxiliary legislature. Nor is the judiciary free to intervene in public policy decisions of the political branches and remake them.
Thus, my judicial philosophy acknowledges that in matters of social and political policy no judge is smarter than the people and their elected representatives of the executive and legislative branches. The people of Michigan have chosen to be governed by our state constitution, and I do not believe that the judiciary, no matter how well intentioned, should contravene that expression of the people’s will.
Similarly, our statutes represent the will of the people as expressed through our elected representatives. Courts must be careful to avoid nullifying that will unless the legislation at issue is plainly unconstitutional. As a result, my judicial philosophy requires that I first give deference to the political branches of government, that is, the legislative and executive branches, by avoiding policymaking in the guise of deciding cases and by interpreting the constitution and statutes consistent with the plain meaning of their language. Second, that I consider the impact of my decisions beyond the case at hand. Third, that I craft decisions with concern for the ease with which they can be applied. And, fourth, that I decide cases on the narrowest basis possible in order to reduce the incidence of adverse, collateral, and perverse unintended consequences.
In closing, let me honestly say that I have never held a more difficult or demanding position, nor one that I desired to succeed at more. I need and I ask for your prayers. I pledge to you that I will be the best Supreme Court justice, that by dedication, energy, and honest commitment I can be. Thank you, thank you so much for your warm reception.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Thank you, Justice YOUNG. We have a surprise for you. Senator Jackie Vaughn would like to present something to you. I know also that Justice YOUNG worked one summer for you, so there is a tie there.
SENATOR VAUGHN: Let me thank you very much. I want to say to the Governor, we had session this morning and we just let out, but I’m very happy that I can come and enjoy this celebration, something that is a credit to our entire state. Bob came to my office in high school in Detroit Country Day School. He was top runner up for the Rhodes Scholarship, and culminantly in the Michigan Supreme Court. We are very proud, happy, delighted. Could you come forward? Well, I want to thank you very much for letting me come. We can’t thank you enough for this recognition. We can’t thank the Governor enough for appointing Bob to the Supreme Court. We can’t thank all of you for coming here celebrating, because this means so much in terms of what Bob has been doing. And so on behalf of all my colleagues in Lansing, all the people of the state of Michigan, congratulations.
JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you, Jackie, thank you.
MS. DUNCOMBE: Thank you so much, Senator. Reverend Edgar Vann, pastor of Second Ebenezer Baptist Church, please come forward.
REVEREND VANN: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you and give you peace now, henceforth, and forever. Amen.
MS. DUNCOMBE: May I, on behalf of the entire Court, thank the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and all those who made possible this very joyous event this afternoon. It is now officially on record why we are all so grateful to have ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR., as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.