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Whitmer names Bolden to fill Michigan Supreme Court vacancy

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor
State Representative Kyra Harris Bolden speaks after Governor Gretchen Whitmer named her to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court

In a historic choice, Governor Gretchen Whitmer will name state Representative Kyra Harris Bolden to the Michigan Supreme Court early next year. She will replace departing Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

Whitmer made the announcement Tuesday at the Michigan Hall of Justice. But the governor won’t formally make the appointment until after Bolden’s House term ends December 31.

Whitmer said Bolden’s appointment is groundbreaking and overdue.

“185 years we’ve never had an African American woman on the state’s highest court,” said Whitmer. “It’s about damn time.”

The Democratic governor will replace outgoing Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, who is resigning to take a private sector job.

Bolden joined Whitmer for the announcement. She called being a public servant “a contract” with citizens. She said one thing that led her into law is her family’s history and the murder of her great-grandfather 83 years ago.

“In 1939, my great-grandfather Jesse Lee Bond was lynched in Tennessee after simply asking a store owner for a receipt when he was 20 years old. His brutal murder was ruled an accidental drowning,” she said. “That contract of public service was not granted to my great grandfather.”

The appointment does not require confirmation by the Michigan Senate, but Bolden has to run in the 2024 election to complete the current term. She can also run again in 2028 for a full eight-year term.

Bolden lost a bid for the court in the past November election after being nominated by a Michigan Democratic Party convention. She came in third behind incumbent justices Brian Zahra and Richard Bernstein for two positions up this year.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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