[Photo of Patrick J. Wright]

Patrick J. Wright

Vice President for Legal Affairs

Patrick Wright is Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he directs the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. He joined the Center in June 2005 after serving for three years as a Michigan Supreme Court commissioner, a post in which he made recommendations to the court concerning which state appeals court cases it should hear.

Prior to that, Wright spent four years as an assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan, where he gained significant litigation and appellate advocacy experience. He joined the state Attorney General’s Office after one year as a policy advisor in the Senate Majority Policy Office of the Michigan Senate. Wright also spent two years as a law clerk to Hon. H. Russell Holland, a United States district court judge in Alaska.

Wright received his law degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He graduated with honors in 1994. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan in 1990.

Wright lives in Chelsea, Mich., with his wife and sons.

The Merits of the Case

Michigan Supreme Court Decision Limits Agency Powers

In practice, this ruling will make it more difficult to achieve policy change through executive fiat because the courts will engage in a meaningful review to determine whether the agency action was permitted by the Legislature’s statute. … more

A Merit-Pay Pilot Program for Michigan Public Schools

RMGN Rejected

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in In re Complaint of Rovas Against SBC Michigan

The Mackinac Center’s brief urges the Michigan Supreme Court to hold that the judiciary need not defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous statutes. Alternatively, because Michigan courts (unlike federal courts) have not determined that agency rules created through formal adjudication are equivalent to rules created through notice-and-comment rulemaking, the Court could hold simply that there is no judicial deference to rules created through adjudication, leaving aside the question of deference to notice-and-comment rules.
The Michigan Supreme Court decided the case in July 2008. The justices held that the rulings of state agencies should not receive deference from the courts and that the Michigan judiciary hence plays an integral role in reviewing the legality of agency actions. The ruling places a direct check on the power of state agencies to interpret and to act upon laws passed by the Michigan Legislature.
The decision is a landmark in Michigan jurisprudence, particularly since it diverges from federal jurisprudence, which grants almost unlimited power to federal agencies in implementing laws passed by Congress. The court's ruling was substantially in agreement with the arguments presented in this brief. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Michigan Department of Transportation v. Tomkins

On November 16, 2007, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy filed a brief of amicus curiae with the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of Michigan Department of Transportation v Tomkins. The legal dispute involves the amount of compensation a property owner should receive from state government when the state uses eminent domain to take part of the owner’s property. Specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court asked whether a state law that limits the property owner’s compensation to so-called "special-effect" damages violates the common understanding of the "just compensation" guaranteed in eminent domain cases by the Michigan Constitution. … more

Beach Affront

We should not happily accept the erosion of one of the pillars of our society — the right to own property, which necessarily includes the power to exclude. … more

A Great (Lake) Decision

Supreme Court Decision Complicated, But Correct

Ironically, the Michigan Supreme Court is being criticized for a “political” result when that result comes from applying the long-recognized standing doctrine that is meant to keep the courts from engaging in political activity. … more

Governor and Legislature Appear Unable To Judge Priorities

Sadly, however, the Legislature has ignored judicial recommendations that would promote meaningful long-term change. … more

A Model Right-to-Work Amendment to the Michigan Constitution

This policy brief discusses several foundational legal concepts and sets forth model language for a legally sound right-to-work amendment to the Michigan Constitution. … more

Workers’ Paychecks Need Further Protection

In order to prevent misuse of nonmembers’ money, right-to-work laws or an end to compulsory unionism is needed. Paycheck protection laws are better than nothing, but they certainly are not optimal public policy. … more

Defeating Privatization

Appendix 1: A Recent Privatization Court Challenge

Durant Decision Summary

The People’s Power: Defending Representative Government

The arguments both for and against the OFIS rulings indicate that these decisions involve a genuine policy debate — something that should, under the Michigan Constitution, be decided in the Legislature. … more

Property Owners Hit by Regulatory Takings Deserve Compensation

Regulatory takings occur when the government enacts a regulation or law that diminishes the value of the property but does not take ownership. … more

A Proposal for Property Protection

Proposal 4: A Legal Review and Analysis

Proposal 4 of 2006, which will appear on the November ballot, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would alter state law regarding eminent domain, the legal theory that permits the government to take private property for public use if the government pays just compensation. … more

The Property Rights Fight Since Kelo

While federal reform efforts have stalled, Michigan residents are well placed to prevent the government from cynically confiscating the property where they live, work and worship. … more

Restoring Our Heritage of Property Rights

America’s Founders created a system of government designed to protect property rights. The Founders were influenced by the 17th century philosopher John Locke, who held that everyone who labored had a natural right to property. Property rights, he wrote, reward effort and reduce conflict. Preserving “lives, liberties, and estates” is “the great and chief end” of government. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Attorney General v. Michigan Public Service Commission

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the Michigan Supreme Court in a case involving the Michigan Public Service Commission’s renewable-energy surcharge on electrical bills. … more

Making State Agencies More Accountable

Agencies and commissions have become so used to having free reign that they broadly construe their mission even where the Legislature only gives a particular agency or commission a limited task. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in DPG York v. Michigan

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the Michigan Court of Appeals in a case involving the preferential sale of state land. … more

Michigan Landowners To Be Heard at U.S. Supreme Court

Congress has effectively entered into land-use regulation, a domain traditionally left to state and local government. Worse, Congress delegated its authority to the Army Corps of Engineers, whose employees, whatever their expertise, never face the crucible of an election. … more

Court correctly ended MEA’s Catholic school bid

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases involving federal wetlands regulation of Michigan properties. … more

Taking Liberties

Taking Measures

Michigan Supreme Court Ruling on “Beachwalking” Erodes Property Rights

The court’s ruling now exposes Great Lakes waterfront landowners to new risks and intrusions. Do the landowners have a duty to make the area beneath the high-water mark safe for walkers or wheelchair users? Can people fish all day below the high-water mark? … more

Court Building

Property Damage