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Textualism and the Michigan Supreme Court

By C. Thomas Ludden
October 23, 2012

Michigan WP Cover

In this white paper, the author analyzes selected Michigan Supreme Court cases interpreting the Michigan Constitution of 1963, Michigan statutes, contracts, and other written documents to show that it has followed a textualist approach over the last twelve years. With one exception, in which the Michigan Supreme Court’s reasoning is compared with that of the United States Supreme Court, all of these cases were closely divided in the Michigan Supreme Court. This review shows that many of the selected cases are ones in which the Michigan Supreme Court applied the textual method to reverse prior precedent and answer questions of first impression. This paper will also discuss the extent to which the Court’s approach has provided the types of benefits that Justice Scalia and Professor Garner suggest that a textualist approach provides.