JANUARY 6, 1987
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I welcome you, family and friends of the Hon. ROBERT P. GRIFFIN, and friends of this Court, on the happy occasion of the investiture of Justice GRIFFIN, the ninety-sixth justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
There are a number of people here today we would like to introduce. We have several former justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, former Chief Justices THOMAS E. BRENNAN and JOHN W. FITZGERALD and the Hon. LAWRENCE B. LINDEMER.
We also have the pleasure of having several federal judges with us here today, two of whom are on the program and you will meet later, but in addition we have with us the Hon. Ralph B. Guy, Jr., of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and there is the Hon. James P. Churchill, the Hon. John Feikens, and the Hon. Wendell A. Miles of the Eastern and Western Michigan Districts.
Among the Michigan judges present are the Hon. Robert J. Danhof, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Hon. Glenn S. Allen, former judge of the Court of Appeals, and, from the Grand Traverse Circuit Court, the Hon. William R. Brown and the Hon. Charles M. Forster.
We also have a gentleman here who was a former justice of our Court, and is now a judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Hon. JAMES L. RYAN.
There are other distinguished guests that we want to recognize: from the Executive Branch, the Hon. Martha W. Griffiths, our Lieutenant Governor, and from the Legislature, the Hon. Paul Hillegonds and the Hon. Paul Wartner.
In addition, we have with us from Traverse City Representative Thomas G. power, and our permanent Attorney General Frank Kelley.
I would like first to introduce to you Stratton S. Brown of the law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, the law firm which Senator GRIFFIN comes to us from.
MR. STRATTON BROWN: It’s a particular honor for me to be able to make a few brief remarks concerning Bob, since I’ve known Bob for approximately thirty years. We worked on school law matters in the Traverse City area back in the early 1950’s.
Although I’ve had many dealings with Bob since he joined our firm, as have the other partners, I think my first experience best demonstrates the quality of him as a person, and the contribution that he made to our firm for the eight years he was there.
Soon after he joined the firm, Bob, myself, and another partner had occasion to travel throughout the Upper Peninsula on some economic development matters which were just coming into being at that time. I remember being impressed with his quick grasp of the rather complicated legal concepts involved, and with his knowledge of the area and the people. He added a great deal to our program, and hopefully to the economic development that subsequently took place.
While Bob was with our office, he acted as senior counselor in the Detroit, Traverse City, Lansing, and Washington offices, advising on many aspects of the law and as to implications of various legislation and procedures for developing legislation and administrative rulings.
In addition, he handled many appellate matters both directly and in an advisory capacity. We came to respect Bob for his judgment of people and their objectives, for his sense of adversaries’ common ground, and his ability to forge a consensus out of diverse views.
We were impressed with his ability to examine all sides of a problem. Bob’s broad experience in Congress in several different areas and during the administration of six Presidents, and as a trial lawyer before going to Congress, and with our firm as a practicing attorney, should well qualify him as a Supreme Court justice.
We will miss his presence at our firm, and his guidance and experience, and we seriously regret losing him. We are comforted by the fact, however, that at least, indirectly, he will be serving us as a Supreme Court justice. We wish him well in this, and we are certain he will serve the state well.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you Mr. Brown.
And now I’d like to recognize Julia D. Darlow, President of the State Bar of Michigan.
MS. JULIA D. DARLOW: Chief justice RILEY, honored justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, judges of the Michigan and federal courts, distinguished guests, and Justice-elect ROBERT P. GRIFFIN. I’m here today to express on behalf of the State Bar our sincere congratulations to Senator GRIFFIN, and our best wishes for, and our confidence in, the superb work which we know he will do as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
The State Bar is proud to participate on this occasion to honor one of our most distinguished members as he assumes one of the positions of greatest responsibility in our profession.
Senator GRIFFIN personifies many of the ideals of our profession, including ability, hard work, perseverance, and commitment: commitment to the rights of the individual, to the welfare of our state and nation, and to public service.
Senator GRIFFIN’S ability was visible early in his career as an editor of the University of Michigan Law Review. His ability was demonstrated throughout his career in Congress, spanning twenty-two years.
One of his most remarkable accomplishments came early, in his third year in the House, when he was instrumental in the adoption of the Landrum-Griffin Act. Although controversial at the time, this legislation is now almost universally acknowledged as one of the principal underpinnings of democracy in union government, sound union finances, and protection of the individual employee.
Senator GRIFFIN has also evidenced a strong commitment to young people, encouraging young people to realize their full potential. One small example of this commitment is the time he gave to meetings with groups of young people who visited his Washington office. I know this because I have a very special photograph of Senator GRIFFIN, surrounded by a boisterous group of giggling Michigan-Metro Girl Scouts, one of whom was my then eleven-year-old daughter on her first trip to Washington. The Senator is looking bemused, patient, and rather exceptionally tolerant under the circumstances.
In addition to showing to young people such as my daughter that their Senators are real people working for them in Washington, the Senator caused Congress to make substantial investment in their futures through student loan programs which he championed.
Among his many other accomplishments, his concern for a qualified Judiciary of unimpeachable integrity stands out with particular relevance with regard to the ceremony for which we are gathered today. Senator GRIFFIN deserves substantial credit for the outstanding quality of the judges who serve in the federal district courts in Michigan. His recommendations, as Senator to the President, for these appointments reflected his nonpartisan efforts to ensure the appointment of federal judges who exemplify the best in our profession.
I will single out only one. Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy is the first lawyer recommended by the Senator for appointment to the federal bench and the first woman to be appointed to a federal court in Michigan. In recommending Judge Kennedy, Senator GRIFFIN made a contribution beyond measure to the quality of jurisprudence in our courts, as I’m sure you know. But what you may not know as well is what encouragement, and even inspiration, he made possible for those women lawyers who were struggling to begin their careers during the late 60’s and early 70’s at a time when only a handful of women had ever served during the history of our nation as federal judges. And we are still profoundly grateful for your vision.
Taken together today, the goals which he pursued in his career in the legislative arena represent an abundant concern for the state of our justice system. As credentials for an incoming Supreme Court justice, the concerns and the abilities he demonstrated there combine most harmoniously with his experience as a practicing lawyer, and with a reputation he has earned. He is known as an intensely serious person, a person who listens thoughtfully to all sides of an issue, who researches an issue thoroughly, and thinks it through, a person who takes a balanced approach. Our justice system has been exceptionally well served by the willingness of members of our profession who have experienced breadth and reach in other branches of government to dedicate themselves to service on this Court.
The members of the Michigan Bar are deeply appreciative of the efforts of the efforts of the Court you join today, to improve and strengthen our justice system in Michigan. The active concern of our justices extends beyond their already heavy responsibilities in deciding issues of law in the cases which come before them, to the practical workings of the system. The workings of our one court of justice as mandated by the state constitution. They include the bar and the citizens, and information gathering processes, and consultative processes.
Senator GRIFFIN, Justice GRIFFIN, we know that you will bring valuable resources to this Honorable Court. You will enhance its diversity, and increase its strength. We look forward with high expectations to your participation. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you President Darlow. I now have the great privilege to introduce to you our most recent Chief Justice who served four years as Chief Justice and a total of sixteen years on the Court. I’m genuinely pleased to be able to introduce Chief Justice WILLIAMS to you now.
HON. G. MENNEN WILLIAMS: Chief Justice DOROTHY COMSTOCK RILEY, Justices, Senator GRIFFIN, and friends gathered here today.
It’s a great honor for me to have been asked to address this group, and I’m highly indebted to Senator GRIFFIN for making this possible. I also am particularly grateful to you Bob, that you waited long enough to let the constitution retire me, rather than take more direct means.
The Senator ought to feel right at home on the Court, because as I look around here I think he’s appointed more people to the judiciary than I have. And that gives you a particular feeling of ease and well being when you’re sitting on the Court.
As I listened to attorney Brown go through the litany of your achievements as an attorney, I am convinced that that background, plus, in particular, your skills in the Congress, and as a Senator, will stand you in good stead. Because this Court is concerned not only with day-to-day decisions, but the broad view of the third branch of government. And I am sure that you will bring to both the day-to-day jurisprudence, and the long-range governance of the one court of justice, the kind of background, experience, and leadership that will be of powerful assistance to this Court.
And before I sit down I would just like to recognize, as you have already recognized in appointing Cornelia Kennedy, the great contribution that the female lawyers make to jurisprudence. I want to congratulate my colleagues on the Court, including you who voted in this election, in electing the new Chief Justice, DOROTHY COMSTOCK RILEY. You showed a peculiar, and a spectacular appreciated of merit. Someone whose opinions make up the jurisprudence in sparkling fashion, and who is an example to the whole Court in the timely manner of preparing her opinions. But there is something that I think most of the public doesn’t realize, and that is that each member of the Court has been working on the administration of the one court of justice. Justice RILEY has been working in a most difficult area, the area of children in the family, where people have very cherished feelings, very strong feelings, and very often feelings that run contrary to the feelings of others. As a consequence, she has had to deal not only with tremendously important problems, but with a great deal of controversy. This she has handled with magnificent harmony and has brought together what might otherwise have been warring factions to work on the production of a very important report. So I think that the Court has chosen well. Not only someone who will lead in the jurisprudence of the state, but someone who is going to provide leadership in that broad scope of making Michigan’s one court of justice the important part of government that it should be.
So Bob, it’s my pleasure as the most immediate past Chief Justice, to welcome you to a very special society which really knows what collegiality means. And I know that you’re going to make a very special contribution to that, so it will have an even finer meaning. God bless you, and go from strength to strength.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you Chief Justice WILLIAMS. And now, before I introduce to you our next speaker who will introduce to you our new justice, I want to recognize three other prominent personalities in the room that were not introduced earlier: the Hon. Margaret Schaeffer, Judge of the 47th District Court, Michael Franck, Executive Director of the State Bar of Michigan, and Wallace D. Riley, past president of the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association, and my husband.
And now I am very pleased to be able to recognize the Hon. Albert J. Engel, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
HON. ALBERT J. ENGEL: May it please the Court, Chief Justice RILEY, members of the Griffin family, distinguished guests and friends. It’s not in my prepared remarks, but I would like to exercise the prerogative of being the first on the Sixth Circuit to extend to you on behalf of our judges, particularly Chief Judge Pierce Lively, our congratulations Justice RILEY on your election to this important post. We look forward to a long and happy relationship with you, such as we have enjoyed with Chief Justice WILLIAMS in the past. I think this is another vivid proof of the remarkable success of our federalism here today, and it’s evidenced so clearly in this room.
It is my happy role in these proceedings this afternoon, for a few minutes, to place upon the record of this Court the background of the man who today assumes the duties of a justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan.
ROBERT P. GRIFFIN and I first met in the fall of 1947 when we entered the freshman class of 1950 at the University of Michigan Law School. It was a class consisting largely of returning veterans of World War II, whose undergraduate education had been interrupted by military terms. Entirely as a side line, I must also comment that it was a class which was ultimately to include, as of today, no fewer than twenty-two members of the state and federal judiciary in Michigan and elsewhere in the United States, including at least two who are here in this room today, Chief Judge ROBERT DANHOF and Judge Churchill.
Bob had been born and raised in Detroit, and the Detroit area. And he graduated in 1941 from Dearborn Fordson High School. He originally had fixed his sights on an education career, and he entered Central Michigan University that fall. But like the rest of us, his college education was interrupted by the war. So he returned to Central Michigan in about 1946, but only after spending three years in the Army, fourteen months of which were spent as a forward artillery observer with the 71st Infantry Division in Europe during which he earned two battle stars.
Upon his return to Central Michigan he met Marjorie Jean Anderson of Ludington, and they were married on May 10, 1947. Marjorie deserves equal treatment in these remarks, for the success and achievement of either Bob or Marge has always been the success of both. Marge was every bit as smart as Bob, and a good deal prettier. And by the time that they married, she was graduated from Central Michigan as valedictorian of her college class, the same distinction she had upon graduation from high school in Ludington. Four children were born of that marriage, Paul, Rick, Jim, and Jill. And I am to leave this part to others, but I can only comment on the fact that we’ve known the family for years, and I have never seen a more cohesive, happy, better regulated group of people in my life. We love them all. And if you want to know what Marge looked like when I first met her, take a look at Jill.
Upon their graduation from law school the young Griffins decided to settle in Traverse City, where Bob joined first the firm of Murchie, Calcutt & Griffin, and later the firm of Williams, Griffin & Thompson.
Bob and his wife quickly established themselves and their roots in Traverse City, and Bob’s reputation as an attorney grew very quickly. They involved themselves in many activities, which I will not spread upon the record here, but which included the Kiwanis and many other civic activities. In 1955 he was also the chairman of the Republican Committee for Grand Traverse County. I had gone to Muskegon, following graduation, to practice law, and in the spring of 1956 Bob came to Muskegon and indicated that he might be interested in running for Congress on the Republican ticket. I readily supported the idea and offered him my help. Bob’s chances at the time were, frankly, quite slim, primarily because he would be running against an incumbent in a four-way primary. When the other major contender was required to withdraw, however, Bob’s chances improved, and he defeated the incumbent and captured the Republican nomination in August. On Bob’s thirty-third birthday on November 6, 1956 he was elected to the United States Congress from the Ninth Congressional District of Michigan. He served that District for five consecutive terms until, in May, 1966, he was appointed to the United States Senate by Governor George Romney to fill the vacancy left by the untimely death of the late Patrick V. McNamara.
Six months later, Bob was elected to a full term in the Senate in his own right, and he was reelected in 1972. By 1978, having spent twenty-two years in Washington, and having lived through the trauma of Watergate, Bob decided to retire to private life. His announcement to that effect stunned his colleagues, and he was ultimately persuaded to reenter the race, only to lose to Senator Carl Levin.
While no one likes to lose, especially BOB GRIFFIN, there was at least one member of the family who could see some positive advantages. For once in their lives, Bob and Marge had a little chance to spend some time with each other, and they quickly reestablished their roots in Traverse City, remodeled their old farmhouse on Long Lake into a modern, comfortable, year-round home. There were weddings and grandchildren to pay attention to. And in 1979, Bob joined the firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone in Detroit as senior counsel.
He also undertook a number of civic and charitable activities, as he always has.
He became associated as a visiting fellow of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He is a member and an immediate past president of the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation. He served between 1981 and 1986 on the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society. He is also a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Michigan Law School, and is well known to the judges and members of the Sixth Circuit as a life member of the Judicial Conference of the Sixth Circuit. He has played a very active role in many of our programs.
BOB GRIFFIN has been the recipient of many awards, and I cannot take the time to name them all here. In 1960, he was one of America’s ten outstanding young men as named by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. And according to my calculations at least, he has been the recipient of eleven degrees of Honorary Doctor of Law from institutions of higher learning.
As impressive as all these titles and honors may be, what has always fascinated me about BOB GRIFFIN is not how much he received, but how much he has given. As John Houseman might say, all of these trappings were received the old-fashioned way, Bob earned them.
Bob’s reputation for leadership and scholarship was solidly established early in life. In high school, he was editor of the school newspaper and president of the school council. He played varsity football and some baseball. At Central Michigan, he was the recipient of the university’s Chippewa Award, which is given to the most outstanding senior members of the graduating class. He was also sports editor of the college newspaper, and also worked on the side with a downtown newspaper as sports editor. He was also president of the senior class at Central Michigan. Bob’s academic record at the University of Michigan Law School was equally strong. He graduated in June, 1950, with the degree of Juris Doctor, and was an editor of the Michigan Law Review in both his junior and senior years.
Upon his election to Congress, Bob quickly rose to prominence as an able, trusted and effective legislator. He served as a member of the Education and Labor Committee and in his first term as Congressman he coauthored the National Student Loan program which has furnished support to millions of needy students and has enhance the coffers of Uncle Sam by their increased income in taxes.
In 1959, he coauthored the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which is always known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. It remains today the only major piece of legislation which the Congress passed in the field of labor since 1947.
In what turned out perhaps to be one of the most remarkable and historic actions of then Congressman GRIFFIN, he headed in 1965 a group of young Congressmen who were not satisfied with existing Republican leadership, and who led a move to install Gerald R. Ford as minority leader in the United States House of Representatives. They could not know then, that that step was to have a remarkable impact upon the future course of history, not only in this State, but in the United States.
BOB GRIFFIN’S career in the Senate was equally remarkable. In 1969, his Senate colleagues elected him in his first term as Minority Whip. It was a rare honor for a man to be elected so soon after having assumed office. He served in that position for a period of seven years. While in the Senate, BOB GRIFFIN also served at various times as a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Finance Committee. Bob took a particular interest in the Judiciary Committee, and he has always had an abiding interest in the judiciary.
Probably the most interesting, but perhaps the least known, part of Bob’s Senate career, and no doubt the most exhausting, was his role as Minority Whip during the Watergate crisis, particularly those last days of the Nixon Presidency when, with the leadership on both sides of the aisle, he endeavored to maintain an ongoing legislative program in the face of a disintegrating political establishment at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It may be pure coincidence, but I’m inclined at least to believe that it was proof of Bob’s unique standing in the Congress that the President resigned, and his resignation came within twenty-four hours after Senator GRIFFIN withdrew his support. It was at this point then that we see the real effect of what had happened even when he was still in the House of Representatives.
Later of course when Gerald Ford became President, Bob consulted with him constantly, and he became something of a television star in his own right during the 1976 Convention when he floor-managed President Ford’s nomination effort successfully.
Another proof of Senator GRIFFIN’S interest in the judiciary was his role in the Abe Fortas affair in Washington. Maybe many of you have forgotten about this, but it is controversial still. It so happened that when Chief Justice Warren determined to resign, he did so in an unusual way. He submitted his resignation to President Johnson conditioned upon the appointment of what was a suitable successor. Bob is no mean constitutional lawyer, and he spotted at once the effect of that, and he looked through the law to see if it had ever been done before, and, lo and behold, it had not. That prerogative has always been reserved in the constitution to the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and he determined to be advised before he consented. The hearings of course had a tremendous impact on the history of our country. Justice Fortas’ name was withdrawn, and he resigned, changing the composition of the United States Supreme Court itself. So again, his effect has been felt in the most vital way.
Incidentally, for what it may be worth, this is not the first Supreme Court facility in which BOB GRIFFIN has worked. I don’t know if you knew that or not. But the very first one he worked in was in a small office, lodged in a space beneath the dome of the United States Capitol, in which the United States Supreme Court first sat in 1801, and it was in Bob’s former office the famous case of Marbury v Madison [5 US (1 Cranch) 137; 2 L Ed 60 (1803)] was argued.
The foregoing information, I believe will provide his colleagues on the bench with an insight into what kind of a justice BOB GRIFFIN will be. He brings to the post not only a solid scholastic record, but an extraordinary breadth of experience and knowledge. He will, it is my guess, be proof of what I have often observed, that those involved in politics very often make the very best kind of judges. I think this is true for a couple of reasons. Number one, they have probably been aching to be fair all their lives, and they haven’t always been permitted to be. And I think also they come to learn from the controversies that surround their own lives, the need for the stability and the independence of a judiciary in the way only a person who is up to his neck in politics can find out. He has come to respect the courts in all ways. His attitude toward the courts has been impeccable correct, and—I like to think—his choice of judges has been very splendid as well.
BOB GRIFFIN takes this office today for the very same reason as his predecessor on the bench, Chief Justice WILLIAMS, and it is the best of all reasons, a compelling, deeply felt need to be of service to the public.
Nearly thirty years ago when we were all very young, a number of us who knew BOB GRIFFIN placed an ad in the newspapers in support of his candidacy for Congress. It contained only Bob’s picture, and the following comment,
Integrity is a much abused word in American politics, but when it genuinely describes a man it says much about him. It means that he is honest, of course. But it means much more than that. It marks him as a man of intelligence and personal courage, completely devoted to the excellent performance of his public duties. Leaders of both parties agree that BOB GRIFFIN is a man of unquestioned integrity.
Chief Justice RILEY, much has happened to all of us in those intervening years.
We have savored victories, and we have nursed defeats. We have seen our parents and our elders pass on and our children grow to adulthood. We have grown in experience and, we hope, in wisdom and certainly in age. Nothing has occurred, however, which has ever given cause for even a moment to doubt the correctness of that judgment which was made thirty years ago.
BOB GRIFFIN is, always has been, and always will be a man of unquestioned integrity. My vocabulary contains no higher expression of praise.
I have the high honor of presenting to the Court for the purpose of taking the oath of office, the Hon. ROBERT P. GRIFFIN.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you Judge Engel. And now this Court has the privilege of being able to call upon the Hon. Cornelia G. Kennedy, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to deliver the oath.
HON. CORNELIA G. KENNEDY: Madam Chief Justice. Bob, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to administer the oath to you today, since it is because of you I am a federal judge. The Bible on which you’re going to be asked to take the oath today is given to you by your colleagues on the bench and those judges who have participated in the program today. And on the first page it says,
On this important day of your investiture, in accordance with a fine old custom, we are pleased to present you with the first book for your library. We wish you a happy career as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.
And it’s signed by the judges of the Court, and by those judges participating.
We’re going to have the book opened to the first chapter of Deuteronomy. In this chapter Moses is charging the judges of that day. And in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses states,
And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Marge, if you’re going to hold the Bible, and, Justice GRIFFIN, if you will place your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I, ROBERT P. GRIFFIN,
JUSTICE GRIFFIN: I, ROBERT P. GRIFFIN, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Michigan; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of justice of the Michigan Supreme Court according to the best of my ability, so help me God.
HON. CORNELIA G. KENNEDY: Congratulations.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you Judge Kennedy. And now Paul and Richard Griffin, attorney of Justice GRIFFIN, will help with the robing.
Perhaps no institution is more akin to a family than is the institution of the highest Court of this state. That fact has never been more poignantly brought home to each of us on this Court than this past week with the retirement of our beloved Chief Justice G. MENNEN WILLIAMS. His retirement from our Court has been the occasion for our private sadness. But, as in all families, a new member of the family brings happiness and great expectations. That is the strength that is built into our Court. It is our tie to the past, and our link to the future. And it is essentially this strength that we celebrate today in honoring our newest member. It is a pleasure for me, therefore, to thank you for joining us this afternoon to welcome to our Court family Justice ROBERT P. GRIFFIN, and his wife Marge.
JUSTICE GRIFFIN: Chief Justice RILEY and my colleagues on the Court, distinguished guests and good friends, and those terms are synonymous today, I am a little nervous as I look out on this sea of friendly faces. I’m very deeply moved by the honor of your presence.
In this room today are some of the ablest and most respected members of the Bar of the State of Michigan, as well as some of the finest and the most distinguished judges from our state and federal courts. I am highly honored and inspired by the fact that they are here. And, of course, I’m particularly grateful for the eloquent and generous remarks of Judge Albert Engel, and I’m most appreciative to Judge Cornelia Kennedy.
It’s a very great pleasure to have in our midst the distinguished leader of this Court who has just stepped down after many years of exemplary service to our state and nation. Mennen, it will not be possible for anyone to take your place on this Court. And I want you to know how much I appreciated the graciousness of your presence on this occasion.
This ceremony is not supposed to be a “This is Your Life” program, and yet I feel a deep sense of humility and gratitude toward those whose contributions at various stages in my life have made this occasion possible. Some are here, and some could not be present.
Of course, I think especially of my father and my mother, whose sacrifice, guidance, discipline, and abiding love helped so much to bring me to this moment. My father has not been with us since 1975. My mother wanted so very much to be here, and I believe that she is. She campaigned vigorously in her neighborhood, and among all the doctors, nurses and orderlies at the hospital; and despite her battle with cancer, she managed to live long enough to rejoice when the returns finally came in on election night.
I’m sure that everyone has fond memories of a favorite teacher. My favorite was also my very best teacher. She taught English. And although the results are not always very apparent, she made a big difference in my life. I wish to exercise a privilege and introduce this favorite teacher of mine, who in a sense represents the many who have touched my life in important ways. She and her husband Robert, and her son Bob, made a special trip from Florida to be here. I wish you would join me in recognizing and thanking Mrs. Hazel Bonner, and her husband and son.
Now that I’m in this robe, and sitting up here on the bench, of course, I am and I shall be very nonpartisan. But I hope that doesn’t require me to overlook the presence of many who made a difference in my political career, which spanned ten elections, five of them state-wide. Some in this room were active, dedicated supporters in each and every campaign. They were always there through thick and thin–and the thin means that we didn’t always win. I’d like to salute all of them by introducing one who made a major difference in the last election–an able, dedicated young man who once served on my Senate staff, and who drove all the way from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to be here, Brad Minnick.
Family and relatives pay a price when one of their own gets into the public arena. I owe much to my kinfolk for their tolerance and support. I’d like to present them in several groups. I’ll ask each to rise as I mention his or her name, but I suggest that applause be withheld until the group has been introduced.
First, from St. Clair, a very special lady, my aunt Edna Foss, who is here with her daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Hal Sheets. And from Waterford, my brother Eugene, and his wife Naomi. From Midland, my brother Jerry and his wife Vee. From Clarkston, my sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. William Foster. And some wonderful in-laws from Grand Rapids, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Knott.
You’ve seen the members of my immediate family, but I’d like now to present them.
Words are inadequate to speak of the enormous obligation I owe to my bride of thirty-nine years. Having worked as a teacher in Ann Arbor to put me through law school, she has always been there with encouragement and support at every stage of my career. For her long-suffering patience and steadfastness and love, I am forever grateful. Ladies and gentlemen, my wife Marge.
And now as a group I would like to present our children.
From San Francisco, our oldest son, Paul, a partner in the law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. Next, our son, Rick, who worked very hard as chairman of my campaign committee, a partner in the Traverse City law firm of Read & Griffin, he is here with Sarah, the oldest of our seven grandchildren. And next from Traverse City, our son Jim, who makes money the old-fashioned way, he’s a stockbroker with A. G. Edwards; he’s here with his wife Kelley. And finally, from Washington, D.C., the only one of our family who still lives there, our daughter, Jill, a sales representative for Finn Air, the airline of Finland. She’s here with her husband Bill Adams.
To the Chief Justice and my colleagues on the Court, let me say how exceedingly pleased I am, and honored, to join you. I look forward to our association and service as members of this great institution.
One of my role models is Judge John Feikens, who put a lot in a nutshell when he said,
A good judge should have an uncommon supply of common sense, some humility, solid knowledge of the law, and a sense of humor.
If instant wisdom does not come automatically with the donning of this robe, at least I want you to know that I shall be doing my very best to grow into those measurements. In so doing, I shall keep in mind the guidance of Benjamin Cardozo, who wrote,
The judge…is not a knight-errant, roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness. [Rather] he is to draw his inspiration from consecrated principles. He is not to yield to spasmodic sentiment, to vague and unregulated benevolence. He is to exercise a discretion informed by tradition, methodized by analogy, disciplined by system, and subordinated to “the…necessity of order in the social life.” Wide enough in all conscience is the field of discretion that remains.
I am deeply conscious of the challenge and the enormous responsibility which attaches to this position. I shall strive to justify the confidence of those who have entrusted it to me.
When my judicial service is completed I hope it may be said that in the exercise of my sense of justice, I contributed to the preservation for future generations of the freedoms we hold so dear.
I look forward now to the opportunity of working as a member of this Court, with colleagues of such competence, dedication, and congeniality.
Brothers and Sisters, I am at your service. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE RILEY: Thank you all for coming.