Sep 13, 2022 - News

Michigan Supreme Court justice to leave court early

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack arrives for the Electoral College vote at the state capital in Lansing, Michigan on December 14, 2020.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack arrives for the Electoral College vote at the state capital in December 2020. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky via Getty Images

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack unexpectedly announced yesterday that she's retiring from the court by the end of the year.

Driving the news: McCormack, who joined the Supreme Court in 2013 and became chief justice in 2019, will leave with six years left on her term.

  • Her retirement gives Gov. Gretchen Whitmer her first opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice.

Between the lines: McCormack leaves behind an impactful legacy after leading the court into the digital age and advancing criminal justice efforts.

What they're saying: "In the coming months, I will appoint a new justice with Michigan values and an unwavering commitment to the Michigan constitution who can be an arbiter of justice and live up to the great responsibility that comes with the role," Whitmer said in a statement.

Flashback: Conrad Mallett, now Detroit's top government lawyer, also resigned midterm as chief justice in 1999. He quit to join a Detroit law firm.

  • But unlike McCormack, Mallett resigned with a GOP governor in office, and Gov. John Engler appointed judicial conservative Robert Young to replace him on the court.

What we're watching: It will be interesting to see who Whitmer appoints to the state's high court, where Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority.

  • The Detroit News' Nolan Finley reports that the governor is said to be committed to seeing the first African-American woman on the high court bench.
  • State Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield) is one of two Democratic Supreme Court candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot. Gubernatorial appointment could be another path for Bolden to reach the high court if she loses her race to flip incumbent Justice Brian Zahra's seat.
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