Two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court are up for election in 2022. All four candidates are listed on the same ballot, and the two with the most votes will serve an eight-year term on the Court. Although these races are in the nonpartisan section of the ballot, the candidates are nominated by state parties. The Democrats nominated incumbent Justice Richard Bernstein and Representative Kyra Harris Bolden. The Republicans nominated incumbent Justice Brian Zahra and attorney Paul Hudson.
Democratic justices currently have a 4-3 majority on the Court. They can strengthen their majority to 5 if Justice Bernstein and Rep. Bolden both win. Republicans can take control with a 4-3 majority if Justice Zahra and Attorney Hudson both win.
Michigan Supreme Court decisions can have highly consequential effects. This year, the Court dismissed two lawsuits that challenged proposed redistricting maps as disproportionately favoring Republicans and disenfranchising Black voters. More recently, the Court ordered that constitutional amendments protecting a “right to reproductive freedom” and expanding voting rights be included on the November ballot.
To help you decide, we’ve assembled background about the candidates’ education and previous work experience, along with rulings they’ve made as sitting judges, public statements, and publicized endorsements, to indicate how they might rule on key issues in the future.
To learn more, see this summary or a video recording of the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum.
Richard Bernstein is a Democratic nominee and currently serves as a justice on the Michigan State Supreme Court. He was first elected in 2014 and became the state’s first blind justice. Before he was elected to the bench, Bernstein graduated from Northwestern School of Law. He then led the public service division for the Sam Bernstein Law Firm where he was known for his efforts to protect rights of people with disabilities.
Bernstein is endorsed by Equality Michigan, Michigan AFL-CIO, and United Auto Workers.
Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden is a Democratic nominee. She currently serves as the state representative for Michigan House District 35. After graduating from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Bolden worked as a criminal defense attorney before practicing as a civil litigator at Lewis & Munday. As a representative, Bolden serves on multiple House committees, including the Insurance and Judiciary committees. If elected, Bolden would be the first Black woman to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Legislation (included to show issues she focused on as a legislator)
Bolden is endorsed by Equality Michigan, Michigan AFL-CIO, and United Auto Workers.
Paul Hudson is a Republican nominee. Hudson is an appellate attorney and chairs the Appeals group at the law firm Miller Canfield. Hudson graduated from Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center. Hudson often represents insurance companies and universities on a variety of matters upon appeal.
Hudson is endorsed by AgriPac, Citizens for Traditional Values, and Right to Life of Michigan.
Justice Brian Zahra is a Republican nominee and a current justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. He was appointed in 2011 by then-Governor Rick Snyder and later twice elected. Zahra graduated from the University of Detroit School of Law before joining the law firm Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman. He eventually became a partner at the firm before serving as a trial judge on the Wayne County Circuit Court and, later, as a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. Zahra serves as the judicial advisor to the Hillsdale College Federalist Society Chapter.
Zahra is endorsed by AgriPac, Citizens for Traditional Values, Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, and Right to Life of Michigan.
We have space to include only candidates polling 15% or more. But check out others including Kerry Lee Morgan (nominated by Libertarians).
guides.vote is a nonpartisan effort to show where candidates stand and illuminate related issues, with links to credible sources. We do not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.