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Judge won’t remove herself from abortion case

Elizabeth Gleicher is a judge on the Michigan Court of Claims.
Millard Berry
Wayne State University
Elizabeth Gleicher is a judge on the Michigan Court of Claims.

The judge who blocked enforcement of Michigan’s dormant abortion ban has refused a request to remove herself from the case. Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher responded Friday to a motion filed on behalf of the state Legislature’s Republican leaders.

The Republican motion argued Gleicher had a conflict because of donations made in the past to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Planned Parenthood, all of whom have an interest in the case before her.

In the 12-page opinion, Gleicher said having community connections and personal views does not mean she’s incapable of fairly judging the case.

“As is true in every case in which I sit in judgment, my job is to follow the law, not make it,” she wrote. “My record on the Court of Appeals and the Court of Claims proves my fidelity to this precept.”

Also, regarding her donations: “It bears repeating that the Michigan Judicial Code of Conduct does not prohibit or even discourage a judge from making such contributions. I violated no ethical canons, statutes, or rules of any kind by making the contributions.”

The Legislature’s Republican leadership was allowed to intervene in the case after Attorney General Dana Nessel announced she would not defend Michigan’s abortion ban.

Gleicher was randomly assigned the case under Michigan court procedures.

The GOP leaders can appeal her decision to a higher court, but did not respond to a request for comment on next steps.

Gleicher’s order, issued before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, keeps abortion legal in Michigan for the moment. That’s despite a 1931 state law that would otherwise ban the procedure in almost all cases. This is one of a number of legal cases in play regarding abortion rights in Michigan, as well as a potential ballot proposal to put abortion rights in the state constitution.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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