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Whitmer to appoint first Black woman to Michigan's top court

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to appoint the first Black woman to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Credit: AP
FILE - Democratic Michigan Supreme Court candidate, state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden, is seen during a Get Out the Vote rally on Oct. 29, 2022, in Detroit. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to appoint the first Black woman — Bolden — to the Michigan Supreme Court, a spokesman said Tuesday, Nov. 22. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to appoint the first Black woman to the Michigan Supreme Court, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Kyra Harris Bolden is Whitmer's choice to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Justice Bridget McCormack, spokesman Bobby Leddy said.

An afternoon announcement was planned.

Bolden is a state lawmaker from the Detroit area who has been a licensed lawyer for only eight years. She was a Democratic nominee for the Supreme Court in the Nov. 8 election but finished third in a race for two seats.

Bolden, 34, will join the court in January after her House term expires. Democrats will continue to have a 4-3 majority on the court.

“Kyra is passionate about the law and will be the first Black woman ever to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court,” Whitmer said. “She will bring a unique perspective to our high court as a Black woman — and as a new working mom — that has too long been left out.”

Black men from both political parties have served as Supreme Court justices: Democrats Dennis Archer and Conrad Mallett, and Republicans Robert Young Jr. and Kurtis Wilder. Wilder was the last, losing an election in 2018.

McCormack said in September that she was stepping down with six years left in her term. She served as chief justice until this week when members of the court chose Justice Elizabeth Clement to take over.

“Michigan’s courts are on a steady path to becoming more accessible, more engaged and more inclusive, and today’s addition to the Supreme Court is a groundbreaking step forward," Clement said.

If Bolden wants to keep the seat through 2028, she must run in the 2024 election.

She worked as a lawyer in civil litigation before her 2018 election to the House. Bolden also worked for a Wayne County judge and was a court-appointed defense lawyer in a Southfield court.


Joey Cappelletti is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


White reported from Detroit.

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