What You Need To Know About The Michigan Supreme Court

2022 Michigan Supreme Court Election Report

Partisan control of Michigan’s highest court was on the ballot in this midterm election cycle, with Justice Richard Bernstein (D) and Justice Brian Zahra (R) running for re-election. Paul Hudson was nominated by Republicans to challenge Justice Bernstein, and State Representative Kyra Harris Bolden was nominated by Democrats to challenge Justice Zahra. 

When the results of the 2022 midterm elections were fully returned, Bernstein was the top vote getter, winning election to a second term with 33.2% of votes cast. Zahra also won reelection, trailing Bernstein at 24.7%. Bolden finished in third at 20.9%, with Paul Hudson and independent candidate Kerry Lee Morgan trailing her at 14% and 7.2% respectively. The Democrats retained their 4-3 majority on the state’s highest court. 

Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack announced in mid-September that she would retire from the Michigan Supreme Court two years into her second eight-year term. This created Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first opportunity to appoint a justice to the Court. On November 22, Governor Whitmer announced her intention to appoint Rep. Bolden to fill the vacancy in January 2023.  

Key Issues

Democracy and Voting Rights: The Michigan Supreme Court has delivered key decisions on redistricting and election laws. The justices held the line for the 2020 election results against baseless claims of election fraud sparked by the Trump administration, and blocked GOP gubernatorial candidates from reaching the ballot after submitting illegitimate paid petition signatures in early 2022.

Protecting Legislative Progress: Democrats in Michigan won both the State House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, taking control of the state legislature for the first time in 38 years. Governor Gretchen Whitmer was also re-elected to her second term. Democrats look forward to advancing a legislative agenda in Michigan for the first time in nearly four decades, and can anticipate that much of it will be upheld by this Court in the face of expected legal challenges from Republicans.

A Message to Alliance for Justice Action Campaign’s Endorsed Candidates

Photo Left to Right: Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden, Justice Richard Bernstein

1. Justice Richard Bernstein (D)

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign would like to congratulate Justice Richard Bernstein on his election to a second term on the Michigan Supreme Court, which AFJAC proudly supported. Justice Bernstein has spent his career as a champion for disability rights. As an attorney at his family’s firm, Sam Bernstein Law Firm, he launched the public service division and maintained a robust pro bono portfolio advocating for people with disabilities. Bernstein is the first blind justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Justice Bernstein was the top vote-getter in this year’s Supreme Court election, a reflection of his popularity and support across the state of Michigan. Congratulations, Justice Bernstein! 

2. Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (D), has served in the Michigan State House since 2019, serving on the Judiciary Committee and focusing her work on criminal justice reform. Prior to her public service, she was an attorney in private practice focusing on civil litigation as well as criminal defense. 

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign would like to thank Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her appointment of State Representative Kyra Harris Bolden to the Michigan Supreme Court, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack. We extend our appreciation to Gov. Whitmer, and congratulate Rep. Bolden and the people of Michigan on this landmark appointment.    

This appointment is historic, as Rep. Bolden will become the first Black woman to serve on the court. She has a demonstrated commitment to the equal application of the law and will treat all who come before the court with respect and dignity, ensuring equitable access to justice for all Michiganders. Rep. Bolden demonstrated popular support among Michigan’s electorate by earning the most votes of any non-incumbent in the 2022 Michigan Supreme Court race, and the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign is proud to have supported her campaign.  

Rep. Bolden must run in 2024 to fill the remainder of this term! Pledge to vote in the 2024 Michigan Supreme Court election here.

Learn more and get involved at: www.afj.org/statecourts

Paid for by AFJ Action campaign, not in affiliation with any candidates or candidate committees.