For the First Time, the Michigan Supreme Court is Scored on Its Conservation Impact

In cooperation with the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School and a bipartisan advisory panel, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters proudly launches "Green Gavels" online reference tool.

ANN ARBOR --- The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV), in cooperation with the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School, has evaluated every Michigan Supreme Court decision over the past 30 years for their impacts on conservation and environmental protection. Following that analysis, Michigan LCV worked with a bipartisan advisory panel to apply ratings - red, green, or yellow gavels - to each relevant case so Michigan citizens can quickly gauge the conservation impact of each case and each justice’s opinion.

It is now available to every Michigander online at

“Green Gavels pulls back the heavy velvet curtains that have surrounded the Michigan Supreme Court for so long and allows citizens to look objectively at how each decision impacts our land, air, and water,” said Michigan LCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak.

University of Michigan Law students, under the supervision of Professor David Uhlmann, researched and wrote objective summaries of every relevant case. Professor Uhlmann previously served as chief of the Environmental Crimes Section at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

"Judicial decisions play a significant role in environmental protection by ensuring that our environmental laws are properly implemented. The Green Gavels project will provide greater understanding about the role of the courts in our environmental law system and enable voters to make choices that better reflect their environmental values," said Professor David Uhlmann.

Attorneys on staff at Michigan LCV applied positive, neutral, or negative ratings to each case and to each justice’s rulings. Ratings were then peer-reviewed by the bipartisan advisory panel. The University of Michigan Law School did not participate in the rating process and takes no position regarding support or opposition for any judicial candidates.

Michigan LCV already grades the State Legislature and Governor Snyder through its Legislative Scorecard and “How Green Is Your Governor?” programs, respectively. Green Gavels extends this work to the judicial branch, thereby finally holding each branch of state government accountable, the only conservation organization in the state to do so.

“The Supreme Court’s decisions touch every trout stream, every forest, every park, and every inch of Great Lakes shoreline,” said Tom Baird, a Member of the Board of Directors for the Anglers of the Au Sable and one of the lead attorneys on the landmark Anglers of the Au Sable v. DEQ Supreme Court case in 2010. “Green Gavels is a much-needed project. People need to know the impact that justices have on conservation.”

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters, a 501(C)(4) nonprofit organization, is the leading political voice for protecting Michigan’s environment. Green Gavels can be found on the Michigan LCV website at