Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will appoint state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden to the Michigan Supreme Court, she announced Tuesday.
Bolden will be the first Black woman to serve as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.
"For years, a Black woman's experiences and perspective have been absent from our state's highest court," she said at an event in Lansing on Tuesday. "To the countless Black women upon whose shoulders I stand, who, like my own mother and grandmother, instill in our community the core responsibilities of honesty, empathy and justice, I promise that I will honor our experience from this new vantage point."
Bolden, 34, replaces retiring former Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, who announced in September she would retire from the court at the end of the current Michigan Supreme Court term. Bolden will join the court at the start of next year.
Whitmer, along with McCormack and newly named Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement, introduced Bolden at an event at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing, where the state's Supreme Court is housed.
"Kyra brings a perspective, and an aptitude, a temperament and an unwavering commitment to the law to the bench. And I think that she will make us all very proud here in Michigan," Whitmer said at the event, which was livestreamed by a local TV station.
Democrats in Michigan nominated Bolden to run for one of the two open seats on the court in the November election, but Bolden received the third-most votes, trailing incumbent Justice Richard Bernstein, also nominated by Democrats, and Justice Brian Zahra, nominated by Republicans.
Bolden will have to run for reelection in the November 2024 election to complete the remainder of McCormack’s term and then again in the 2028 general election if she wants to serve another full, eight-year term after that, per a court spokesperson.
Before being elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2018, Bolden was a judicial clerk for Judge John A. Murphy in Wayne County and later practiced civil litigation at Lewis & Munday, per her campaign website.
In a September interview with the Free Press, Bolden said one the most formative moments in her path toward choosing a career in the legal world came when she was an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University. Her great-grandmother told her that Bolden's great-grandfather was lynched in Tennessee in the 1930s.
Jesse Lee Bond's death was ruled "an accidental drowning," which eventually became the name for a documentary highlighting the lynching and the lack of justice Bond received. Bolden said hearing the story prompted her to go to law school and later work to introduce and pass criminal justice legislation as a lawmaker in Lansing.
"I've always been trying to find my place in the justice system, how to make it more equitable, just given our history and how important representation is and how important this moment is that we have justice," she previously said. "Because a lot of people don't realize justice is a quality-of-life issue. Not only for Michiganders, but for everyone in this country."
Michigan's top law enforcement official commended Bolden's appointment. In a statement, Attorney General Dana Nessel said Bolden "will serve the state with integrity and humility and will do so honorably.”
John Johnson Jr., executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, also applauded the appointment, calling it a "significant and consequential moment in the history of our state."
"Her trial experience as a criminal defense attorney, her leadership on important public policy and her dedication to justice — the legacy of her own great-grandfather’s lynching — will inform her decisions and bring the court closer to the goal of achieving equal justice for all," Johnson said in a statement.
McCormack, who spent 10 years as a justice on the court, will join the American Arbitration Association - International Center for Dispute Resolution in February as its new president and CEO.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Whitmer tabs Kyra Harris Bolden for Michigan Supreme Court vacancy