PAC member Linda Solterisch with husband Ron at Sindbad's with GOP chairman 'Bobby' Schostak.
PAC chairman John Stempfle greets Justice Stephen Markman at Sindbad's in Detroit.
Schostak Kicks Off Fundraiser
Markman Looks to Maintain, Expand
Conservative Majority on State Supreme Court
By John Minnis
Justice Stephen J. Markman not only hopes to maintain the 4-3 conservative majority on the Michigan Supreme Court, he also looks to expand it to a 5-2 majority. But first, he must win his third election for the state's high court, and Brian K. Zahra, a January 2011 appointee by Gov. Rick Snyder, must win his first election.
“If we can retain that 4-3 majority, you can be very proud of what this court does,” Markman told a record crowd April 26 at the Thomas Robert McCleary Jr. Memorial Eastside Republican-PAC fundraiser at Sindbad's at the River in Detroit. Noting an open seat on the bench due to Justice Marilyn Kelly's mandatory retirement, Markman added, “We change that 4-3 majority to a 5-2 majority.”
“This is the largest group we've ever had,” said John Stempfle, ERC-PAC chairman.
According to Stempfle, proceeds will be used to support local GOP candidates during their 2012 campaigns.
Ann McCleary, left, enjoys friends at April 26 PAC fundraiser.
Andrew Richner, Georgiana Richner, Justice Stephen Markman, and Susan Richner at Eastside Republican Club-PAC fundraiser.
In addition to Stempfle, PAC committee members include Alice Baetz, John Chouinard, Carol Hackleman, Ed Joseph, Jeffrey Neilson, and Linda R. Solterisch. The ERC chair, Jenny Nolan, serves as ex officio member of the group.
Markman stood in for scheduled guest speaker Michigan Republican Party Chairman Robert I. “Bobby” Schostak, who spoke briefly during the cocktail hour before heading to another speaking engagement.
Schostak was introduced by ERC-PAC member John Chouinard. “Bobby's goal is to broaden and grow the Michigan Republican Party,” Chouinard said.
After the lengthy, flattering introduction, Schostak said, “If I did all those things all I'd need to do is beat Barack Obama. I don't think anyone would find fault with that objective.”
Among his main accomplishments, Schostak said, was spending 48 hours on a bus touring the state with former State Rep. Andrew Richner, R-Grosse Pointe Park, now a University of Michigan regent. “I know, a lot of you are thinking that is not so great,” Schostak said.
After acknowledging Ann McCleary, wife of the late Eastside Republican Club founding member Tom McCleary who died a year ago, Schostak said, “We are at ground zero in the next election.”
Citing the “amazing” progress Gov. Snyder has made in his short time in office, Schostak said, “You have an important election coming up. It is important because of Michigan's turnaround.”
He noted Michigan's drop in unemployment from 12.9 percent to 8.5 percent in 15 months, as well as the Republican leadership's elimination of a $1.5 billion deficit and the dreaded Single Business Tax.
“Legislators eliminated lifetime healthcare benefits and lifted the cap on charter schools, putting the child first,” Schostak said. Alluding to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, he said, “This is what being 'blown away' is all about.”
Above, Dan and Marianne Grano sign John Hauler for Congress petition at Sindbad's.
Left, ERC chairman Jenny Nolan with Justice Stephen Markman.
Local YAFer's Grant Strobl, Langston Bowers, Michael Barrett, Stephanie Holder appreciate the conservative perspective espoused by Schostak and Markman.
Justice Stephen Markman
Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly of the Michigan Court of Appeals introduced Markman. “We look to the (state) Supreme Court to set the path for the rest of the state,” she said, noting the “rule of law” conservative majority on the court and the “caliber and quality” of Markman as part of that majority. >>Michigan Supreme Court
Markman, for his part, said, “When I see Judge Kelly's name on a majority opinion or dissent, I look at it very carefully.”
Among the many attorneys and judges present, the justice recognized Wallace Riley, husband of the late Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley, “whose opinions are still read today.”
Markman said that as assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, part his job was to recommend judicial appointments to the president. He met with President Reagan every week for four years. During that time, Reagan appointed 290 district court judges among his record 376 judicial appointments.
“The standards were set by the president himself,” Markman said. “The question was not liberal or conservative candidates, but those committed to rule of law.”
Krista Haroutunian, Susan Haroutunian, Andy Walker, and Ed Haroutunian visit during the ERC-PAC fundraiser.
Park residents John Chouinard and Linda Solterisch pose with mayor Palmer Hennan.
Justice Stephen Markman speaking about the rule of law at the annual ERC-PAC dinner on April 26, 2012.
Cindy Pangborn, Marti Miller, Julie Corbett, and Margot Parker share views at Sindbad's.
As he often does, Markman cited U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion in Marbury v Madison that judges are interpreters of the law, not its makers.
“We do not get to alter laws we do not agree with,” he said. “Absent constitutional prohibitions, the citizens get to make such decisions, not the lawyers on the bench.”
Markman said judges must resist the “great judicial temptation” to put their “thumbs on the scale of justice.”
“Judges must respect the decisions of your elected representatives,” he said. “If it was the role of the judge to reflect his personal beliefs, why limit it to lawyers? … We only put lawyers on the bench because they alone are trained to read the law.
“In my mind, for a judge to render a decision based on his personal conscience, gut feeling, is unconscionable.”
Markman noted that running for the state Supreme Court has become “extremely expensive.” “We must raise at least $1 million,” he said, “and they will too.”
“My promise, as in all my past campaigns,” Markman said, “is to bring the values I've brought to all my years on the court and as iterated by Ronald Reagan.”
GOP Chairman Schostak
Schostak was elected chairman of the Michigan Republican Party in January 2011.
As chairman, his key initiative has been to broaden and strengthen the Michigan Republican Party. Under his direction, state leaders aggressively have worked with local organizations to improve communication, build lists, recruit volunteers, and provide training for improved grassroots operation.
Since his election, Schostak has created a grassroots team committed to electing and re-electing Republican leaders across Michigan.
In 2011, Schostak led the Republican Mackinac Leadership Conference, and in coordination with CNBC's “Your Money, Your Vote,” hosted the Republican presidential debate.
Previously, Schostak served as finance chairman for Michigan Republicans through the 2010 election cycle. In that role, he raised record funds, resulting in the most successful Republican electoral outcome in decades.
Schostak is a longtime party activist, including roles on campaign fundraising teams for Senator Spencer Abraham, Dick DeVos, and John McCain. He currently serves on the finance committee for the Republican Governors Association.
Co-chairman and chief executive officer of a family-owned business, Schostak Brothers & Company, Inc., Schostak has been active in the commercial real estate business since 1976. His background in Michigan business gives him firsthand knowledge of challenges faced by job providers, workers and families, and fuels his drive to help revive Michigan's economy.