Month: June 2020

Michigan Supreme Court race taking shape with two potential GOP candidates

By Craig Mauger The Detroit News

Lansing — The November race for control of Michigan’s high court has now drawn two potential Republican nominees — a state Court of Appeals judge and a longtime St. Clair County lawyer.

Two of the seven seats on the Michigan Supreme Court are up for election. Republican-nominated justices hold four of the seven seats, a majority that could be in jeopardy this fall after Democratic nominee Megan Cavanagh flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018.

Democratic-nominated justices last held a majority briefly in 2010.

One of the seats up for election this year is held by Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, a Democratic nominee who is seeking re-election and will run with an incumbency designation on the ballot. The designation identifies a candidate as a “justice of Supreme Court.”

Justice Stephen Markman, a GOP nominee, holds the other seat, but he can’t run again because the Michigan Constitution bars judges 70 or older from being elected or appointed.

Voters elected both McCormack and Markman to full eight-year terms on the court in 2012.

In December, Grand Rapids area attorney Elizabeth Welch launched her campaign with the intention of running with McCormack as the Democratic nominees. Welch and McCormack received the endorsement of the Michigan Democratic Party in May.

“Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Elizabeth Welch bring the experience, the passion and the constitutional knowledge that is so needed,” party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes, said in a statement.

On May 28, Brock Swartzle, who was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Republican then-Gov. Rick Snyder in 2017, announced he would seek a GOP nomination for the Supreme Court.

Swartzle previously served as chief of staff for former Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, and as general counsel for the Michigan House Republicans.

This week, Mary Kelly of Fort Gratiot who served 30 years in the St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office, announced she would also seek a GOP nomination.

“Being a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court is a role which demands focus, responsibility, civility and respect. It would be a privilege to succeed Justice Markman on the Michigan Supreme Court,” Mary Kelly said in a press release.

Mary Kelly

She happens to have a similar name to former Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly, a Republican-nominated justice who resigned in August 2015 to return to private practice. 

The Michigan Republican Party is scheduled to officially select its two Michigan Supreme Court nominees during a state convention on Aug. 29. Other candidates for the GOP nominations could still emerge.

MARY KELLY ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT

Kelly: “As a prosecutor and victims advocate, my entire career has been dedicated to protecting families and children”

Fort Gratiot, Mich. – Today, Mary Kelly announced her intention to seek the Republican nomination to the Michigan Supreme Court. Mary Kelly has served over 30 years as a highly-respected and award winning St. Clair County Prosecutor. In addition, she has served in private practice before the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals and currently serves as the St. Clair County Lawyer Guardian Ad Litem. In this role, Mary represents the children of neglect abuse cases in St. Clair County.

Over her career, from leading the St. Clair County Prosecutors Office Criminal Sexual Conduct Unit focusing on sexual and physical abuse to prosecuting those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Mary Kelly has been steadfast champion of the rights of victims. Mary successfully prosecuted the first Drunk Driving/Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol causing Death case in St. Clair County.

Mary Kelly said, “As a prosecutor and victims advocate, my entire career has been dedicated to protecting families and children. I will continue to be committed to common-sense, rule-of-law principles which give everyone in Michigan equal justice under the law. Being a Justice on the Michigan Supreme Court is a role which demands focus, responsibility, civility and respect. It would be a privilege to succeed Justice Markman on the Michigan Supreme Court.”

I have spent a career in the courtroom and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that judges should interpret the laws according to how they are written by the legislature, not according to how judges wish they were written. Judges are supposed to interpret the laws; they are not supposed to write the law. This simple act gives all of us a judicial system we can count on where everyone is afforded the opportunity for equal justice and fairness in the courtroom.”

Mary Kelly is seeking an eight year term beginning January 2021. She now proceeds to the Republican State Convention in August and if nominated, will run on the non-partisan section of the ballot in November.