What You Need To Know About The Michigan Supreme Court

2022 Michigan Supreme Court Elections

On November 8, partisan control of Michigan’s highest court will be on the ballot with Justice Bernstein (D) and Justice Zahra (R) running for re-election. Democrats currently have a 4-3 majority on the Court and who wins these 2 elections will have significant ramifications for the rights of all Michiganders.

Justice Brian Zahra and Paul Hudson are the Republican nominees and Justice Richard Bernstein and state Representative Kyra Harris Bolden are the Democratic nominees. Justice Bernstein must defend his seat against Hudson to hold the liberal majority. And If challenger Rep. Bolden defeats Justice Zahra, Democrats will secure a 5-2 supermajority on the Court for the next 2 years.

Holding a supermajority will insulate the court from partisan political decisions that could undermine access to abortion, natural resources, democracy, LGBTQ rights, and more. However, Republican groups, like the Republican State Leadership Committee, plan to invest over $5 million in down ballot races —including in Michigan. In 2020, Bridget McCormack (D) and Elizabeth Welch (D) ran a successful ticket winning both seats. The stakes could not be higher for Bernstein and Bolden to replicate their success.

Key Issues

Abortion: Following the US Supreme Court’s gutting of Roe and Casey, states will determine individual’s access to abortion services. Over 55% of Michiganders want to continue protecting abortion access. Michigan currently has a 1931 abortion ban law. This law is being challenged before the MI Supreme Court by Governor Whitmer and Planned Parenthood of Michigan (separate lawsuits).

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. The Court recently blocked 3 GOP gubernatorial candidates from reaching the ballot after submitting illegitimate, paid petition signatures.

Meet the Candidates

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

1. Justice Richard Bernstein (D) 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. Learn more here.

Bernstein’s challenger, Paul Hudson (R), is currently an appellate attorney at a businessside firm that primarily represents the wealthy and large corporations. Learn more here.

2. Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (D), has served in the Michigan State House since 2019. Prior to her public service, she was an attorney in private practice focusing on civil litigation as well as some criminal defense. Bolden would be the first black woman to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court. Learn more 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.