Meet Michigan Supreme Court candidate Susan Hubbard | Michigan Radio
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Meet Michigan Supreme Court candidate Susan Hubbard

Oct 12, 2020

Michigan voters will elect two justices to the state Supreme Court in November. Susan Hubbard is one of the seven candidates. 

Candidate: Susan Hubbard

Current Position: Wayne County Third Circuit Court judge, first elected in 2010

Nominated by: Green Party* 

*All judicial candidates in Michigan are listed as nonpartisan on the ballot.

See all of Michigan Radio's state Supreme Court candidate interviews

In the past decade, Judge Susan Hubbard has heard a lot of cases in the Third Circuit Court in Wayne County. But when asked to name some that stand out to her as examples of her typical approach on the bench, Hubbard wanted to talk about a project she coordinated behind the scenes. 

When she learned about the high rate of people serving as their own attorney in the domestic division of the court, Hubbard came up with an idea to help them. 

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"I went ahead and applied for a grant with the state to produce a video for all the self-represented litigants. And the video is instructional on how to file for divorce with children, how to file for divorce without children," Hubbard told Michgian Radio's Morning Edition. "I think it has helped many, many people who otherwise couldn't afford an attorney to be able to file and to know how to do so."

A political family

Hubbard was elected as a city council member in Dearborn in 1985 and as a Wayne County commissioner in 1989. 

Her grandfather, Orville Hubbard, served as mayor of Dearborn from 1942 to 1978. He was a segregationist and opposed integrated neighborhoods in the city. In 2015, a statue of him that had been in front of the old Dearborn City Hall became controversial and was moved. Eventually the Hubbard family took ownership of it. 

Before becoming a Wayne County judge in 2010, Hubbard served on the Wayne County Commission. She is also a former Dearborn City Council member.

"I did not know my grandfather as a segregationist," Hubbard told Michigan Radio. "He, in fact, endorsed our first African-American secretary of state, Richard Austin, over his white opponent. My grandfather was referred to by [former Detroit] Mayor Coleman Young as one of the best effective mayors in the country. I knew my grandfather to be friends with Coleman Young. So, this idea that he was a racist and a segregationist is something really that I never witnessed."

All of the justices currently on the Supreme Court are white, and Hubbard is one of six white canidates in a field of seven on the ballot.  

"I think diversity on the court is very important," she said. "I have worked ... with people of all different races since I was 18 years old. I have worked on the [Wayne] County Commission, which is comprised of very different ethnic groups. And I certainly would like to see more diversity on our Supreme Court, but I don't think it prevents one from being able to rule fairly."

Legal issues over executive orders

In early October, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion about Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders related to COVID-19. That was requested by a federal court. However, in June the state Supreme Court declined to expedite a separate state case. That's still making its way through the system. 

Hubbard did not share her views on the merits, but she does believe the court's refusal to speed up the state case was a mistake.

"Standing for the rule of law means addressing the very basic question of whether the governor's use of the 1945 [Emergency Powers of Governor] law violates our Constitution's separation of powers doctrine of checks and balances," she said. "I really think that our Supreme Court definitely should have taken this up back in June. And if I were there, I would have voted to have taken it up back in June. The justices are elected by the people. They represent the people. And when such important issues as that issue comes before them, they should have taken it up immediately."

Lauren Talley contributed to this story.

Editor's note: Quotes in this story have been edited for length and clarity. You can hear the full interview at the top of the page. 

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