Snyder expected to name Chief Legal Counsel Beth Clement to Michigan Supreme Court

LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court as early as Thursday, and many observers of the Capitol and the judiciary expect the appointment will go to his chief legal counsel, Elizabeth (Beth) Clement.

Snyder’s appointment will fill the vacancy created when the U.S. Senate recently confirmed President Donald Trump's appointment of Justice Joan Larsen to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Clement, 40, of East Lansing has worked in the executive office since Snyder became governor in 2011, first as a deputy legal counsel and, starting in 2014, as deputy chief of staff. In 2015, Clement was promoted to cabinet secretary while continuing to hold the deputy chief of staff post.

She was named Snyder's chief legal counsel in April 2016.

Clement has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Michigan State University and a degree from the MSU College of Law.

News of Clement as the likely appointee was first reported by Gongwer News Service on Nov. 1.

Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Snyder, would neither confirm nor deny the identity of Snyder's nominee Tuesday, but several Capitol observers said Clement's name is the only one they are hearing.

"I think Beth would be an amazing pick, if that's the direction the governor goes," said Stu Sandler, an attorney and Republican consultant.

"She's one of the smartest legal minds I've worked with, and she's really well-respected."

Clement did not respond to a Tuesday e-mail seeking comment.

Republican nominees hold a 5-2 edge on the Michigan Supreme Court, where Larsen's departure left the court with only one woman -- Democratic nominee Bridget Mary McCormack.

Snyder has turned to his chief legal counsel for a court appointment previously, naming Michael Gadola to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2014.

Clement's husband, Thomas Clement, was named general counsel to the Michigan Supreme Court in May 2016. The couple has four children.

Michigan Supreme Court justices are paid $164,610 a year -- a salary that has not increased since 2002.

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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