A Michigan Supreme Court justice running for re-election acknowledged Friday that he used the N-word during a private conference with other justices in 2006.
Robert Young Jr. responded after former Justice Elizabeth Weaver gave a speech this week saying he used the racial slur and that it shows why he doesn’t deserve another eight-year term on the court.
Young, who is black, told The Associated Press that he used the word during an “impassioned plea” to emphasize how someone was being treated “without rights, without dignity.”
“I’m sorry that I used the term. … Obviously I was very hot about this. That’s why I used the word,” Young said. “I remember the heat and the purpose for using it.”
When pressed for details, he couldn’t recall the case.
Young said Weaver’s actions were an “outrage.”
“This is despicable. Justice Weaver hasn’t been called (the N-word) or been treated like one, but she finds it politically expedient to use it politically,” Young said. “All of my family has experienced it including me.”
In her speech in Traverse City, Weaver said Young used the slur in the plural form and was referring to a judicial candidate. She read from a May 2006 memo that she wrote and sent to all justices expressing disgust at Young’s remarks and other “unprofessional” incidents.
“Perhaps everyone should imagine that the court’s conferences are being televised,” Weaver said. “The public would be appalled at how the court’s business is often conducted.”
She also said that in April 2006 Young suggested to another justice that he use the phrase, “you ignorant slut,” when addressing the State Appellate Defender Commission. It was a phrase used years ago in a popular “Saturday Night Live” skit.
Young told the AP he couldn’t recall saying that.
Weaver, a moderate Republican, and Young, a conservative Republican, regularly clashed on the court. She quit in August, allowing Gov. Jennifer Granholm to appoint a replacement that put the court in a solid 4-3 Democratic majority.
Weaver’s speech and memo were posted on http://www.delayedjustice.com. Reached by phone Friday, she said she was golfing and couldn’t comment further.
“They’re waiting for me,” she said of other golfers. “You’ve got plenty of material.”
Young said Weaver’s “rant” broke a rule that forbids disclosure of the Supreme Court’s private discussions.
“Justice Weaver never respected the conference privilege and that’s why we had to promulgate a rule,” he said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)