by Scott McClallen
The Michigan Supreme Court will likely be weighted toward Democrats after Chief Justice Bridget McCormack announced she’s leaving the bench later this year.
The vacancy will allow Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to appoint a judge to the bench whether or not she wins re-election in November.
Whitmer called McCormack “a phenomenal public servant.”
“In her tenure on the Michigan Supreme Court, she upheld the rule of law, stood strong for our constitutional values, and protected the fundamental rights of every Michigander,” Whitmer said in a statement. “She worked tirelessly, both on and off the bench, to move our state courts forward and ensure that all Michiganders, no matter their background, means, or circumstance, had equal access to our justice system.”
Whitmer said she would pick a 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.”
The person appointed must run in the November 2024 general election to complete McCormack’s eight-year term, which would have run through 2028. After the new Justice is appointed, the Court will choose its next Chief Justice.
Whitmer said she would appoint a new justice in the coming months. McCormack joined the MSC in 2013 and became Chief Justice in 2019. McCormack’s most significant feats might have been criminal justice reform, allowing cell phones in the MSC, influencing “clean slate” bills, and ensuring court transparency during COVID.
McCormack serves on several boards and commissions at the national and state level, including the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, the Michigan Jail Reform Advisory Council, and the Task Force on Forensic Science.
A slight Republican Court majority in 2020 declared unconstitutional Whitmer’s COVID orders she enacted on 10 million Michiganders for 207 days after rejecting checks and balances from the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Democrats hold a 4-3 majority for appointing justices on the top court. However, two incumbents seek re-election on the Nov. 8 ballot: Democratic-nominated Richard Bernstein and Republican-nominated Brian Zahra.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Bridget McCormack” by Michigan Courts. Background Photo “Michigan State Supreme Court” by Subterranean. CC BY-SA 3.0.