On Election Day, Michigan voters will choose state Supreme Court justices. Two of the court's seven seats are open in this election.
As part of Michigan Radio’s election coverage, Morning Edition is featuring interviews with candidates for the court from October 30 to November 2 beginning with Sam Bagenstos.
Bagenstos is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. From 2009 to 2011, he served in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration. He has also argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bagenstos has specialized in civil rights law and believes that area of law is what makes this election so important.
"I think that that state courts right now are really poised to be the place where our basic rights are going to be protected," he says.
Bagenstos believes the current court could do a better job of selecting cases. He cites the Highland Park "right to read" case in which the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit arguing the state and the struggling Highland Park school district were failing in their legal obligation to adequately educate students. The state Supreme Court declined to hear that case in 2015.
"What we've seen on the court is, in recent years, a refusal to engage with some of the issues that are really important to the community," he says.
You can hear the complete interview by pressing the play button above.