In This Week’s Lansing Update:
- Senate Committee Considers Indigent Defense Legislation
- USCCB Issues New Bulletin Insert on Marriage
- Religious Liberty Reminder
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony on indigent defense legislation (Senate Bills 300-301). These bills, similar to the legislation discussed in last week’s House Criminal Justice Committee, would create the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) to establish and implement minimum standards for indigent defense around the state. The commission would work with local indigent defense systems to ensure that those systems are able to implement the standards in a way that works best for them. No vote was taken, but Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) testified in favor of the bills. Here is an excerpt from staff testimony:
“A just society must have a legal system where all citizens have the right to legal counsel, and thus the opportunity to present their case regardless of financial means. The image of ‘lady justice’ which adorns our courtrooms is most often depicted with a set of scales which measure the strength of a case's support and opposition. In too many instances, the scales are tipped against the poor the very moment they enter the criminal justice system, based upon their economic status, but also because of where they live… A qualified defense attorney will help judge and jury make a fully informed determination of guilt or innocence.”
MCC will continue to support its passage and provide updates on this topic as they are available.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a new nationwide bulletin insert this week titled “Marriage and the Supreme Court.” The bulletin was created in response to the Supreme Court cases that began in March concerning the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, which both define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The court is expected to issue a ruling in June. The U.S. bishops have joined many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and to recognize the essential contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children. To learn more about the Church’s teaching on marriage, click here.
Thanks to your support, over a thousand messages have been sent to the Michigan Senate in support of important religious liberty legislation. Senate Bill 136 would protect the conscience rights of health care workers, payers, and institutions, as well as protect employers, employees, and patients from discrimination. Please continue to send messages of support [Link no longer available —Ed.] for the legislation and encourage family and friends to do so as well. To learn more about the bill, check out this message from MCC staff.