Kyra Harris Bolden sits at her Michigan Supreme Court seat for a photo with her family, Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court Elizabeth Clement and retired Justice Bridget Mary McCormack. Photo: Governor’s Office
Kyra Harris Bolden will be appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court next year, replacing Justice Bridget Mary McCormack as the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Bolden is also Governor Whitmer’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.
Bolden currently represents Southfield and Lathrup Village in the State House – a position she has held since 2019.
She previously practiced as a civil trial attorney in Detroit. Bolden also served as a prosecuting attorney for Judge John Murphy at the Wayne County Third Circuit Court and as a court-appointed criminal defense attorney at the 46th Circuit Court of Southfield. At the beginning of her legal career, Bolden worked as a trainee lawyer.
Michigan Supreme Court justices are nominated by state political parties. The judges nominated by the Democrats currently have a 4:3 majority.
McCormack will retire from court. Bolden will serve a partial term that expires on January 1, 2025. If she is to serve out the remainder of McCormack’s term, which expires on January 1, 2029, she must seek re-election in November 2024.
Bolden came third in the November 8 election for two seats on the Supreme Court. Incumbent Democratic-nominated Justices Richard Bernstein and GOP-nominated Justice Brian Zahra won those seats.
“I am incredibly honored to have been selected by Governor Whitmer for this Michigan Supreme Court nomination,” Bolden said. “I will ensure equal access to justice, apply the law without fear or favoritism, and treat all who come before our state’s highest court with dignity and respect.
“I also know that this moment – becoming the first black woman to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court – would not be possible without leaders like Shelia Johnson, Debra Nance, Deborah Thomas, Cynthia Stephens and Denise Langford Morris. These are the black women who paved the path I choose to follow. I hope that my voice in court will inspire future generations to achieve their dreams. I am humbled by this honor and ready to go to work on behalf of all Michiganders.”
Whitmer said that as a state official, former attorney and trial attorney, Kyra has a passion for the law.
“She will bring a unique perspective to our High Court as a black woman – and as a new, working mother – that has been left out for too long,” Whitmer said. “Kyra has been committed to fighting for justice for generations, and I know she will serve Michigan admirably as she builds a brighter future for her newborn daughter and all of our children.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the composition of the state’s courts should reflect the impact of the decisions on the population.
“I commend the governor for selecting Kyra Bolden to serve on our state’s highest court,” Nessel said.
Following McCormack’s resignation, judges of the Michigan Supreme Court voted unanimously to appoint Justice Elizabeth Clement as the court’s next chief justice for the remainder of the current term. Clement is an agent for former Gov. Rick Snyder.
“We are pleased to welcome the first black woman to court and stand ready to work with her and lead an independent branch of government committed to the rule of law and a justice system that works for all,” Clement said.
“Governor Whitmer’s appointment of Kyra Harris Bolden to the Michigan Supreme Court marks a significant and momentous moment in our state’s history,” said John Johnson, Jr., executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). “As the first black woman to serve in this capacity, she will bring a long-lost perspective to the deliberations of the state’s highest court. That alone makes this a monumental decision, but Ms. Bolden brings more to the table than her racial identity.”
As a state representative, Bolden serves as Assistant Democratic Leader and as a member of the House Judiciary and Insurance Committees.
She has worked on criminal justice reform and drafted and passed bipartisan legislation protecting survivors of sexual violence. Bolden has successfully legislated portions of critical bipartisan legislation, including the Medical Frail prison reform package, the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act Revision, and the Address Confidentiality for Survivors of Domestic Violence package.
Bolden received her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Grand Valley State University.