Kyra Harris Bolden will be appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court beginning next year. She will be the first Black woman to serve on the high court and will succeed retiring Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.
Bolden is also Governor Whitmer’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.
She currently represents Southfield and Lathrup Village in the State House — a position she’s held since 2019.
She previously worked as a civil litigation attorney in Detroit. She also worked as a staff attorney for Judge John Murphy in the Wayne County Third Circuit Court and as a court-appointed criminal defense attorney for the 46th District Court of Southfield. Early in her legal career, she worked as a law clerk .
Michigan Supreme Court justices are nominated by state political parties. Judges nominated by Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority.
McCormack is set to retire from the court. Bolden will serve a partial term expiring on Jan. 1, 2025. If she wishes to complete the remainder of McCormack’s term, which expires on Jan. 1, 2029, she’ll have to run for re-election in November 2024.
Bolden placed third in the Nov. 8 election for two Supreme Court seats. Incumbents Democratic-nominated Justice Richard Bernstein and Republican-nominated Justice Brian Zahra won those seats.
I will ensure equal access to justice, apply the law without fear or favor, and treat all who come before our state’s highest court with dignity and respect. – Kyra Harris Bolden
“I am incredibly honored to be chosen by Governor Whitmer for this appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court,” Bolden said. “I will ensure equal access to justice, apply the law without fear or favor, 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 Judges Shelia Johnson, Debra Nance, Deborah Thomas, Cynthia Stephens and Denise Langford Morris. These are the Black women who blazed the path that I seek to follow. I hope that my voice on the Court will inspire future generations to pursue their dreams. I am humbled by this honor and I am ready to get to work on behalf of all Michiganders.”
Whitmer said that as a state representative, former law clerk and litigator, Bolden is passionate about the law.
“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,” Whitmer said. “Kyra is committed to fighting for justice for generations and I know she will serve Michigan admirably, building a brighter future for her newborn daughter and all our kids.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the composition of the state’s courts should reflect the population its rulings impact.
“I commend the governor for selecting Kyra Bolden to serve on our state’s highest court,” Nessel said.
Following McCormack’s retirement, the Michigan Supreme Court justices unanimously voted to name Justice Elizabeth Clement as the court’s next chief justice for the remainder of its current term. Clement is an appointee of former Governor Rick Snyder.
“We are thrilled to welcome the first Black woman to the Court and ready to work with her, leading an independent branch of government committed to the rule of law and a justice system that works for everyone,” Clement said.
“Governor Whitmer’s appointment of Kyra Harris Bolden to the Michigan Supreme Court marks a significant and consequential moment in the history of our state,” said John Johnson, Jr., executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). “As the first Black woman to serve in that capacity, she will bring a long-missing 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 the assistant Democratic leader and as a member of the House Judiciary and Insurance Committees.
She has worked on criminal justice reform, crafting and passing bipartisan legislation to protect survivors of sexual violence. She has successfully passed pieces of critical bipartisan legislation into law, including the “Medically Frail” prison reform package, the revision of the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act and the “Address Confidentiality for Survivors of Domestic Violence” package.
Bolden earned her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Grand Valley State University.