Robert Young is the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan. He was appointed to the court in 1999, and became part of a majority of justices who embraced originalism and led what one scholar described as a “textualism revolution.” He retired in 2017. Justice Young previously served as a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals, and he is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Chief Justice Young’s majority opinion held that Michigan’s constitution only permitted eminent domain for “public use.” Chief Justice Young then narrowed the permissible ways government could condemn private property and transfer it to a private party. Chief Justice Young’s opinion came one year prior to the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London.
Chief Justice Young’s dissent calls into question the constitutionality of answering certified questions from federal courts. Chief Justice Young reasons that the Michigan Constitution only allows the state supreme court to answer certified questions from the legislature or the governor. Apart from that, however, Chief Justice Young reasons that the Michigan Supreme Court should only accept certified questions from federal courts when they present a debatable issue pivotal to the federal case.
Chief Justice Young’s majority opinion reasoned that the Michigan Constitution does not permit the Civil Service Commission to collect agency shop fees from union-eligible employees in order to fund administrative operations.
Chief Justice Young penned an article on the embarrassing consequences of seeing the common law as a vehicle for judicial lawmaking. Chief Justice Young colorfully compares the common law to a “drunken, ancient toothless relative” forever present at a “genteel garden party.” Chief Justice Young then offers judicial traditionalists a road map for evicting the unwanted party guest.