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MI Supreme Court establishes diversity commission

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Michigan Hall of Justice.

The Michigan Supreme Court created a new commission this week to oversee diversity and inclusion initiatives within the judiciary.

The Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will recommend policies and standards, work to get rid of disparities, and diversify judicial branch leadership.

Justice Elizabeth Welch said there are two levels to its work.

“Internally, we want to make sure we have the most talented staff that represents the demographics of our state. And to me, that would be local court level, all the way up to the Supreme Court level,” Welch said, “Then certainly externally, what does our court system look like to the people who are not inside it?”

Some justices dissented from the order creating the commission.

In his dissent, Justice David Viviano called its title “a catchphrase that is politically fraught.” Justice Brian Zahra concurred.

They raised concerns about the broad nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

But Welch said groups like this one have been important for equity initiatives in other states.

“It’s really hard work. No one doubts that. And it can be slow. It’s hard to effect change in really big systems. But you have to start somewhere and I’m super proud of clerk and our courts right now that are moving forward on some really important changes,” she said.

The commission is a continuation of a committee created a year ago to also look into systemic disparities.

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