Advance Notice: Briefs

Clement to serve as state Supreme Court chief justice

By: - January 5, 2023 8:04 am

Justice Elizabeth Clement speaks at the 31st Annual Crime Victims’ Vigil, April 17, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

Elizabeth Clement will continue to serve as Michigan Supreme Court chief justice after a unanimous vote by the seven-member body. The GOP-nominated member has taken over for Justice Bridget McCormack, a Democratic-nominated member who retired in December.

“I am honored to have been chosen unanimously by my colleagues to serve as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for the next two years,” Clement stated through a statement. “In the new year and beyond, we all look forward to working with judges and court professionals statewide to further our shared commitment to civility, transparency, and accountability. Together, we can achieve our shared mission to ensure courts are independent, accessible, engaged, and provide an efficient justice system that works for everyone.

Clement was nominated by the GOP, but the body has a Democratic-nominated 4-3 majority. Clement has served on the state high court since 2017 when she was appointed by GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder. She was elected in 2018 to a full, eight-year term.

In 2019, McCormack was selected as chief justice, even though the court had a 4-3 GOP-nominated majority at the time. Democrats won a majority on the court after the 2020 election.

Clement is a 2002 graduate of Michigan State University Law School and served as Snyder’s chief legal counsel. Clement earned a bachelor’s and law degree from Michigan State University. 

In November, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer named former state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden of Southfield as McCormack’s replacement. Bolden, who was sworn in on Monday, is the first Black woman to serve on the court.

Other justices include Democratic-nominated Richard Bernstein, Elizabeth Welch and Megan Cavanagh and GOP-nominated Brian Zahra and David Viviano.

“Our agenda is ambitious, but I know the judicial branch has the passion and energy to meet every challenge,” Clement added. “For example, juvenile justice reform is a priority as courts provide the information and expertise necessary to help enact and implement common-sense policy measures that will guide and protect young people at risk. We have the opportunity in 2023 to make Michigan a national leader in positive outcomes for every child who is engaged with the justice system.”

Clement added the Michigan Judicial Council will “continue bringing stakeholders together to develop plans to make courts more welcoming, easier to navigate, and staffed by professionals with the latest technology training.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.