He loves his country, believes in public service, and stands strong upon his Hillsdale education: David Viviano, ’94, will run to retain his seat on the Michigan Supreme Court next month.
“He is one of those people you meet and think to yourself, ‘If only he could be the one to run the world,’” said Professor of Business Law Robert Blackstock. Viviano, 42, earned his place on the supreme court under special circumstances when Gov. Rick Snyder appointed him to replace Justice Diane Hathaway who resigned amidst a scandal regarding bank fraud in February 2013.
In November, Republican Viviano will face off against Democrat Deborah Thomas and Libertarian Kerry Morgan.
Viviano said his Hillsdale education formed the foundation upon which he’s built his judicial career.
“Whenever I mention that I attended Hillsdale College and that many of my family members have, I always receive applause,” Viviano said. “I’m proud to be a graduate and represent the college.”
Specifically, Viviano appreciates Hillsdale’s classical education in character and judicial integrity — principles that he holds to be highly important.
“I find myself using what we all learned at Hillsdale about the founding principles set by our founding fathers, the separation of powers, and idea of individual liberty,” Viviano said.
Joe Viviano, ‘96, calls his brother a “rule-of-law-judge” and correlates that with the emphasis Hillsdale places on freedom.
“If a judge does anything other than interpret the law as it’s passed by legislature you have rule-by-judges instead of people governing themselves,” Joe said. “And we all know Hillsdale is strong on self-government.”
David Viviano agreed with his brother’s assessment of a judge’s proper function in government.
“Judges are to defer to the policy of the legislature,” David said. “Judges are not policy makers.”
In addition to his education, David’s family plays a vital role in helping him achieve his goals.
“I had great role models,” David said. “My dad is a retired judge and we grew up campaigning for him.”
His father, Antonio Viviano, was a Macomb County probate and circuit judge until 2010.
Now, David’s large Italian family focuses its efforts on his campaigns. Previously, David ran in multiple local elections, winning a seat in 2006 to the Macomb County Circuit Court, where he served as chief judge from 2011 to 2013.
“We couldn’t do what we’ve done if our family wasn’t fully invested,” David said. “It’s important to us, and they’ve been willing to make sacrifices and spend the time and effort necessary.”
“In local elections, everyone would help,” Joe added. “My mom would organize poll workers, my sister, Kathy, would handle his finances, and all the cousins would put up signs and knock on doors.”
Because this is David’s first statewide election, he hired a full-time campaign manager while Joe serves as an adviser and fundraiser instead. David admits he’s had to learn about state politics and how to run in statewide elections.
“It takes a lot of time and money to get our message out to the whole state,” David said.
He’s bought radio and TV time, sought support from outside groups, and used social media to deliver his message to a broad spectrum of voters.
David believes that he has been well received by voters, but said the outcome is uncertain until election day.
AgriPac, Citizens for Traditional Values and Michigan Chamber of Commerce are just a few of the associations and organizations endorsing Viviano’s campaign. Viviano has also been endorsed by the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police and, as of last week, Police Officers Association of Michigan.