Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has selected state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden to fill a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve on the state’s high court.
Whitmer, a Democrat, will announce the selection Tuesday. Bolden will succeed Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, who revealed in September her plans to leave the court to become CEO of the New York-based American Arbitration Association-International Center for Dispute Resolution.
McCormack is a Democratic candidate, and Democrats held a 4-3 majority on the court in this month’s election.
Whitmer described Bolden, a 34-year-old lawmaker from Southfield, as “passionate about the law.” Bolden will be the youngest member of the Michigan Supreme Court and could hold a seat for more than three decades because justices can seek reelection until they reach age 70.
“She will bring a unique perspective to our high court as a Black woman — and as a new working mother — that has too long been left out,” Whitmer said. “Kyra is committed to fighting for justice for generations, and I know she will serve Michigan admirably, building a brighter future for her newborn daughter and all of our children.”
Bolden was a Democratic candidate for two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court in the Nov. 8 election. But he finished just behind Republican nominee Judge Brian Zahra for the second position.
Bolden received 22% of the vote. Zahra won 24%. Democratic nominee Justice Richard Bernstein finished in first place with 34%.
For much of the campaign, Bolden ran for office while pregnant, giving birth in August.
First elected to the State House in 2018, he is a member of the House Judiciary and Insurance Committee. Prior to serving in the House, he was an attorney at Lewis & Munday PC in Detroit and worked as a staff attorney for Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy and as a court-appointed criminal defense attorney for the district court in Southfield. Bolden studied law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
“I am very honored to be selected by Governor Whitmer for this appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court,” Bolden said. “I will ensure equal access to justice, enforce the law without fear or favor, and treat everyone who comes before our state’s highest courts with dignity and respect.”
Bolden will serve a partial term that expires at noon on January 1, 2025. If he wants to finish out the remainder of McCormack’s term, which expires on January 1, 2029, Bolden will have to run for the seat in the November 2024 general election. election
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John Johnson Jr., executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said: Whitmer Bolden’s nomination to the Michigan Supreme Court marked an important and consequential moment in state history.
“As the first Black woman to serve in this capacity, she will bring a long-missing perspective to the deliberations of the state’s highest court,” Johnson said in a statement. “That alone makes this a monumental decision, but Ms. Bolden brings more to the table than her racial identity.”
Bolden’s experience as a criminal defense attorney and his leadership on public policy will inform his decisions, Johnson said.
Contributed by Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc.