State Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden Is Running for Michigan Supreme Court Judge; This Is What She Needs to Win

Bolden, a lawyer and litigator by training, was first elected in 2018 to a reliably Democratic state House seat in the Detroit suburbs. She’s now running to make history as the first Black woman to serve on Michigan’s seven-member high court, which currently has no Black justices.

State Rep Kyra Harris Bolden
State Rep Kyra Harris Bolden

It was in August, that Michigan state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden enthusiastically took the stage to accept the Democratic nomination for state Supreme Court just six days after she giving birth to her baby daughter.  Taking the nomination means that Rep. Harris Bolden is now running to make history as the first Black woman to serve on Michigan’s seven-member high court, which currently has no Black judges

“I’m a lifelong resident of Southfield Michigan and have represented for the state of Michigan for the past 4 years and one thing that has always been very important to me is representation. Making sure that there’s a quality of equity in our laws,” says Rep Harris Bolden. “It’s one of the reasons that I ran for this position as state representative. I’ve practiced law and have been a law clerk and when you’re these type of positions, advising a judge on how to rule on a specific case and actually litigating the laws themselves, you start to see for yourself the inequalities that exists. At the conception of when laws are being made, we need someone in the room that looks like me to point out the inequalities.”

Because state Supreme Court candidates technically run as nonpartisan, Michigan voters who vote straight-ticket Democratic or Republican will miss state Supreme Court races unless they make a point to look out for them on the ballot. Look for Kyra Harris Bolden on your ballot.

Rep. Harris Bolden is running to make history as the first Black woman to serve on Michigan’s seven-member high court.

“I’m leaving a very safe Democratic seat that I would have, most likely, won an easy election for. But the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Bolden said. “It was when I was safely in my second trimester that I thought, ‘I can do more, and I can’t sit on the sidelines.’” 

In Michigan and around the United States, long-overlooked state courts now wield more power than ever before in shaping American law — and outside interests are putting more resources toward influencing who gets on the bench. Nearly a quarter of the nation’s state supreme court seats are on the ballot in some form in 2022, either in direct partisan elections, nonpartisan elections or retention elections, where voters face a yes-no choice of whether to keep an appointed justice on the bench. 


“If the board of canvassers deadlocks for any reason in future elections, that issue goes to the Michigan Supreme Court,” Bolden noted. “That could be another petition, or that could be another election.” 

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II (l) Governor Gretchen Whitmer (m) and State Rep. Harris Bolden (r)

In Michigan, the stakes of the race are enormous. 

“Part of our job is making sure that people are aware of how the Michigan Supreme Court will affect their daily lives going forward, and honestly, generations to come,” Bolden said. “Whether or not you’re able to vote on a particular ballot petition doesn’t just affect the people of today.”

Bolden is on a ballot along with four other candidates. Voters can pick two justices, and Bolden is running on an unofficial ticket with incumbent justice Richard Bernstein, with the duo positioning themselves against incumbent Brian Zahra and candidate Paul Hudson

“There isn’t currently anyone that has actually made law sitting on the Michigan Supreme Court, and I think that’s an important perspective, particularly when you’re talking about statutory interpretation,” Bolden said. “There should be someone at the table that knows how our laws are made.”

This system makes the races challenging to poll, but Democrats see positive signs in other statewide polling. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leads her Republican opponent, Tudor Dixon, by wide margins in recent polls. Proposal 3, the reproductive rights amendment, has also garnered over 60 percent support in public opinion surveys, forces that should also boost Bolden’s prospects. 

“I’ve been able to get 5 bills passed since being in this position and getting laws passed is incredibly hard and I’m so proud of the work that we’ve been able to do in the past four years but there is so much more work to be done,” believes Rep. Harris Bolden. “The life of a public servant is filled with sacrifice and I stand on the backs of so many Black women who have mentored and supported me that I know it’s not just about me.”

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