In preparation for the 2022 midterm election on Nov. 8, The Michigan Daily sat down with candidates in the Michigan Supreme Court race to discuss their background, experience and goals for office. Five candidates will be vying for two open seats and will serve eight-year terms.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Richard Bernstein

The Michigan Daily: Why do you want to run for re-election?

Richard Bernstein: I am currently a Supreme Court Justice for the state of Michigan. And ultimately, I’m running for another term because I think, at the end of the day, when you ask the question, ‘Why do people do this?’ You do this because you love people. I do this job because I have a love for people, I care about people. At the end of the day, you do a job like this because you genuinely want to make life better for people. That’s what it’s about. And this position, you really get to have a profound impact on the lives of people who live in this state. 

When you think about my last term — the last eight years — you have to understand: I’m blind, so I don’t have any vision. So everything takes me considerably more effort than it does for a person who’s able-bodied. I have to internalize everything, I’ve got to memorize everything. So I’ve got to memorize and internalize all the cases. I can’t use a computer, I can’t use notes. 

And I think your question is, ‘Why do you do this? Where do you get your passion and your determination and drive for this?’ And I think the answer is this: I was the Justice who wrote the Flint Water case. And you’re familiar with, I imagine, what happened in Flint with the water. So I was able to write the opinion that ultimately, basically allowed for the residents of Flint to have their voice heard. And it was a very significant opinion because the question was, ‘Did the Governmental Tort Liability Act shield the government?’ And I was able to write the opinion that ultimately allowed for the residents of Flint to be able to pursue grievance against the state for what happened. 

We have tons of cases, but there’s always a few cases where, as challenging and as difficult as the job is, there are a few cases when you look at it, and you say, ‘This is why we do it. This is why.’ There’s always that case where you look at it and you say, you know what, as challenging, and as difficult and as hard as this is, there’s that one case when you look at it and you say, ‘Okay, this is why we do what it is that we do.’ And this was the Johnson Scott decision. And I wrote the opinion on the Johnson Scott case. But the Johnson Scott decision, you had two young African American men who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But I think after you review the evidence, and you see what happened, the case had all kinds of problematic issues that were a part of it. And ultimately, I just genuinely believed that these folks were innocent and I was able to write the opinion that gave them their freedom.

TMD:  Can you tell me a little bit more about your platform more broadly? What has been most important to you over the last eight years and what would you hope to accomplish if re-elected?

RB: One of the areas that I tend to focus on is wrongful convictions and exoneration. And I think that if you’re looking for something that is critical about the court, I would say that would be one of the key issues that I’ve focused on in my tenure on the court. Ultimately, there’s a lot of things that happen within the system and you need justices to ensure that things are done correctly, and that people’s rights are ultimately protected, and that’s absolutely a critical thing. 

The Michigan Supreme Court, for all intents and purposes, is going to be the last word in all electoral issues. So when you talk about how an election is run, all aspects of an election, the state Supreme Court basically is the final determining factor. What is the presidential election? It’s 50 state elections. So how does that work? Basically, the question of how an election is administered, how an election is run, is ultimately decided by the state Supreme Court. The constitutional questions as it pertains to anything dealing with an election goes to the state Supreme Court. So let me just give you an example: the issues as it pertains to who can vote, how they vote, where they vote, the process in which people vote, all the issues that you’re hearing about as it pertains to how people are going to cast the ballot, every constitutional question that arises from anything dealing with how an election is run, goes to the state Supreme Court. That’s how significant this job is. So let me just give you a quick exampleIn Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that drop boxes are unconstitutional. So now, if you’re talking about ‘Are you going to use dropboxes?’ We’ll see that Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court in the state of Wisconsin, has determined that those will be unconstitutional.

Good judges do not take a position. Everything that we’re discussing in our discourse right now is solely and exclusively procedural. I am in no way taking a position, I’m talking about procedure. So let’s look at Prop 3. You want to understand the significance of the Supreme Court? Let’s walk through it. This is absolutely critical. What happens is that for anything to get certified, you have to get a majority of the Board of Canvassers. So what happens if you have two Democrats and two Republicans, and they deadlock? It doesn’t certify. So ultimately, the only entity that determines certification at that point is the state Supreme Court. That’s how significant that is.

TMD: What do you want to say to college students right now? Why do you think that college-aged voters should vote for you?

RB: I think at the end of the day, here’s the key: a judge can’t take a position. When you interview senators and congresspeople or governors, that’s different. They can take positions. So they can say, if you vote for me, I’m going to do X, Y and Z. It’s completely inappropriate for a judge to do that. A judge can’t do that. It’s completely unethical. So what I would say as it pertains to this is that what college students need to be mindful of is the overall importance of the state Supreme Court. That’s what they need to understand: that we tend to get lost. I think it’s great, I really think it’s incredibly impressive, that The Daily is talking to Supreme Court candidates. I think it’s fabulous. Because that shows a really great newspaper. Because what usually happens is people focus on the governor, they focus on the Attorney General, they focus on the bigger officeholders. So the fact that you’re focusing on a Supreme Court race, I think is fantastic, and I think you should be really praised for that. 

But I think the key is make sure that you focus on the Supreme Court. You know who the Democrats are. There are two Democratic candidates. I’m one of them. Kyra Bolden is the other. The trick with the Supreme Court is we’re on the non-partisan section. So what happens is folks, when they get to that section of the ballot, it’s non-partisan, so you don’t know who the Democrat is. You don’t know. But this is really significant. At the end of the day, it comes down to every key issue that a person is concerned about. Any issue on the most personal level that a student is concerned over, the Michigan Supreme Court is going to be the last word on that.People advocate, people argue, they can do all that stuff. But what people have to understand is on every issue that affects your life — and this is very important: I’m not taking a position — whether it’s on reproductive rights, whether it’s on voting rights, every key issue in your life, in this state, the Supreme Court is the absolute last word, period, end of story. What happens is that when people do canvassing and get out the vote and they do that kind of stuff, they tend to overlook the Supreme Court. They don’t pay attention to it. They’ll focus on the governor, they’ll focus on the other races. But then what happens is when people get into the non-partisan section of the ballot, less folks know. When you go to the ballot, when you go to the non-partisan section, you have to know who you’re looking for, you have to know the name of the person that you want. Because it’s not going to tell you who’s a Democrat or who’s a Republican, it’s just not gonna say it. It’s just gonna have a list. And you have to know the names of the people that you want to vote for for the Supreme Court. So it takes a little bit of extra research, a little bit of extra time. But it’s very easy to figure out who the Democrats are and who the Republicans are. You can figure that out. I’m a Democrat, Kyra Harris Bolden is a Democrat. She’s the Democratic nominee. But when you get to the ballot, and you get to the non-partisan section, guess what? It doesn’t say that. There’s no indication next to it. 

But here’s the key, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is on all the most significant personal issues that I would imagine students are very concerned about, the Supreme Court is going to be the last word on all of it. So that’s why it’s significant. I think it’s great that you’re focusing on the Supreme Court, but I think when you research it, when you look at the cases that we’ve dealt with, look at the issues that we deal with, but most important, look at how it’s set up. At the end of the day, you know, everything comes down to how the Court decides, and the Court is the last word on every issue I think people are concerned about.

Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at

Paul Hudson

The Michigan Daily: Could you tell me a bit about your current position and why you are running for Michigan Supreme Court?

Paul Hudson: I grew up in Rochester Hills and Bloomfield Township, went to high school at Detroit Country Day and now I live in Kalamazoo with my wife and two kids — two middle schoolers, an eighth grader and a sixth grader. And I lead the appeals group at Miller Canfield, which is a law firm based in Detroit, and I’m in our Kalamazoo office. I’ve been practicing law for 16 years and I’ve specialized in cases in the Michigan Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. I’ve handled over 150 cases in the Michigan appeals courts. 

I got my undergrad degree in government philosophy from Cornell and my law degree from Georgetown, and I served as a law clerk for Ray Catledge, (a judge on) the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and his chambers are based in Ann Arbor. I got interested in running for the Michigan Supreme Court because I practice in that court regularly and know that (the) Michigan Supreme Court is really important for all of us. Whether we’re reading Michigan Supreme Court decisions every day or not, it’s a really important court, and every term that affects all of us. I think we need our best and most experienced people to step up for this, and so I felt a sense of duty to step up and run for this seat.

TMD: Can you tell me a little bit more about your previous legal experience and how you feel that’s prepared you to step into this role?

PH: I lead the appeals group at Miller Canfield, so for the past decade, basically all of my cases have been in the Michigan Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and then state and federal appeals courts across the country.  I think the best experience for being an appellate judge is to be an appellate lawyer, and I take a lot of pride in my legal writing. An important part of being a judge as well is writing good, crisp, clear legal opinions. So my appellate background, I think, serves me well to step in as a justice to the Michigan Supreme Court. 

TMD: Can you tell me a little bit about your platform and what you want to accomplish as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice?

PH: What I’ve come to realize over the years in practicing in the Michigan appeals courts is that the very best judges are the ones who are fair and neutral and non-partisan. And I’ve always thought the role of a judge is to be an umpire. A good judge, like a good umpire, doesn’t get to make up the rules or change them mid-game. A good judge just calls balls and strikes, fairly applying the rules every time without giving either side an unfair advantage. I really believe in that strongly and that’s the kind of justice that would be on the Michigan Supreme Court.

TMD: Is there anything that you want to say to college students? Why should college-aged voters vote for you?

PH: These are really hyper-partisan times, and passions are running high right now on a lot of issues, and understandably so. But I think that’s when judicial temperament and character really matter the most. We need to be able to count on our judges to step back from the partisan inferno and just get back to the basics of judging. So my commitment is to be fair and neutral and non-partisan. And I think that’s really what we should all look for in our judges.

Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at

Kyra Harris Bolden

The Michigan Daily: What is your current position and what made you want to run for Michigan Supreme Court?

Kyra Harris Bolden: I’m a state representative for Michigan’s 35th House District which includes the communities of Southfield, Lather Village, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin. I’m a lifelong resident of Southfield, Michigan, I went to Grand Valley University for undergrad and went to University of Detroit Mercy School of Law for law school. 

As I went through my legal career practicing as a court-appointed criminal defense attorney, as a judicial law clerk and as a civil litigator, there was a question that kept coming up, and that was ‘Who is making these laws?’ Because, when you’re in these different positions, you see how the law affects real people. I saw how the law affects my clients. I decided to run for office in 2018 because I kept seeing these gaps in the law and I wanted to, at the conception of the language, be able to have a voice as to how the language affects everyday Michiganders. 

I’m running for Michigan Supreme Court now, having probably seen almost every aspect of our law. Being a judicial law clerk, you do the research and you recommend how the judge should rule on cases. But, having seen almost every aspect of the law except for actually being a judge, I think I have a great knowledge base as to how our laws now should be interpreted, having made laws and litigated laws. 

TMD: What are major points in your platform and what is most important to you?

KHB: What I want to accomplish as a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court is to bring in a fresh perspective. There’s a seven-jurist panel, there’s not just one individual. The Michigan Supreme Court should be reflective of the diversity of perspectives and experiences of the everyday Michigander. That means that we have people of different races and ethnicities and religions and sexual orientation on the court. One thing that I bring as a unique experience would be that I would be the only person that’s made laws, and so I understand the thought process that goes into that. And I think that’s really important when we’re talking about statutory interpretation. The thought processes of the lawmakers is integral to how you interpret the law. I think that’s an important experience to bring to the bench. The other piece of it is representation. There is currently no Black person that sits on the Michigan Supreme Court and there has never been a Black woman to serve on a Michigan Supreme Court’s history. And, while I don’t believe that’s a reason to vote for me in and of itself, I do believe that representation is important. Especially with lived experiences, you may be able to see things in a different way than someone else and be able to share that perspective. I think it’s important for that perspective to be represented on the highest court in the state of Michigan. As far as my tenure on the court, I would want my outcome to be a greater trust in our judicial system, to know that people are seen and heard and that their case is being evaluated for its uniqueness and not just a number or not just ‘This is like all other cases I’ve seen with similar facts.’ I think that’s very important and I think I would bring that with a fresh perspective. The other piece of it is access to justice. Access to justice is incredibly important to me. That doesn’t mean that everything will go your way all the time. But again, people have the opportunity to be seen and heard within our judicial system. 

TMD: Is there anything that you want to say to college students? Why do you think that college-aged voters should support you? 

KHB: One: vote. Voting is so important, particularly, the Michigan Supreme Court will be the last word in what your rights look like in the state of Michigan. And again, what your children, and your children’s children, or your nieces, your nephews, your family members — what their rights look like in the state of Michigan. The Michigan Supreme Court will be the last word on voting rights, will be the last word on LGBTQ+ rights, will be the last word on environmental rights, women’s rights. These are decisions that affect every Michigander but will certainly affect you as you go on through life, your career, the environment that you’re in, the rights you’re able to access. 

Two: please vote for the Michigan Supreme Court because it’s so important. 

Three: vote for Kyra Harris Bolden, because I have a track record of being a fighter for justice and I have a very public record as a state representative that is easily accessible. When people come into this role, usually they come from a private practice or they’ve been a prosecutor or something like that, and they haven’t done much advocacy work. But my record speaks for itself. And I hope that people will Google the work that I’ve done in the House and make a decision to bubble in Kyra Harris Bolden in the non-partisan section of the ballot. And that’s really important too, because a lot of people vote straight-ticket. That does not apply to our judicial candidates, nor does it apply to school board or the ballot petitions. So it’s important to complete the ballot. I hope to earn the vote of college students, because I know, as a young person and a new mom, how important these issues are and how it’s going to affect the lives of Michiganders going forward. 

Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at

Kerry Morgan

The Michigan Daily: What is your current position and why did you decide to run for Michigan Supreme Court?

Kerry Morgan: I’m an attorney. I practice law in Michigan. I’m also admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Virginia, as well as various federal courts, including the Sixth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. I want to run in order to allow people to have greater choice on the ballot so they can have more options when choosing judges, particularly at the Supreme Court of Michigan, to provide them an opportunity with a candidate such as myself that really has an emphasis on defending the rights of the people as stated in the Constitution of Michigan and to restrain the government within its constitutional boundaries.

TMD: Can you tell me a little bit about your previous legal experience, and how you feel that has prepared you to step into the role of Michigan Supreme Court Justice?

KM: I was admitted to practice law in 1981. I’ve been practicing law for over 40 years. I’ve been through the various trial courts, particularly the circuit courts, and have also appellate experience in the Court of Appeals arguing appeal matters for various clients. So I’ve got a lot of judicial experience and practical experience. The Court of Appeals also represents a diversity of clients and have an opportunity to advise them and counsel them as well as litigate in their defense or on their behalf as plaintiffs. And so I’ve got to see both sides of the aisle there. The Court of appeals are not strictly plaintiff or defense counsel. And dealing with appeals, you get a better sense of how judges, particularly at the appellate level, regard appeals and handle cases and decide cases. In the trial courts, the judges that are there, they’re faced with the actual day-to-day things of litigation and so, thinking on your feet, these are all good, I think, to prepare one for the bench, having argued before many different judges.

TMD: Can you tell me a little bit about your platform and what you would hope to accomplish on the Michigan Supreme Court?

KM: Platform’s probably a term better suited to the legislative branch and the executive branch. But the intent of your question, I think, is what’s my point of view, so to speak, or my judicial philosophy? The purpose of the judicial branch is not to write the law like a legislative body or to actually carry the law into effect, like the executive branch, but to actually read the law as it’s written, determine what it meant to those who wrote it at the time it was written and apply it to the cases or the controversy before them in the court. Beyond that, judges really shouldn’t wander, and they shouldn’t be rewriting the statute or updating it or modernizing it. We have elected branches that are supposed to be responsive to the people and that’s where the political advocacy comes in: in the legislative branch and the executive branch, not the judicial branch. 

TMD: Is there anything that you want to say to college students? Why should college-aged voters support you? 

KM: I think there’s this better sense of activism in college students. They want to make things better, they want to make the system better. But the shortcut is you try to get judges that will do it for you, and that tends to be a double-edged sword. I would encourage college students to focus primarily on the legislative and executive branches for their policy objectives and for their judicial choices, those that will apply the law as those branches have written or interpreted. 

Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at

Brian Zahra

Incumbent Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra declined an interview but provided The Michigan Daily with his statement for the non-partisan coalition of college students. Below are the parts of Zahra’s statement that were responsive to the questions The Daily asked other candidates.

The Michigan Daily: How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

BZ: Having owned and operated a small retail business to pay my way through school instilled in me life experiences that have proven extremely valuable in every aspect of my legal career. I am also the only member of the Supreme Court to bring to the state’s highest court prior judicial experience as a Court of Appeals judge (12 years) and a trial judge (4 years). This exposed me to every facet of our court system and provided me with a detailed understanding of how our courts function. I have tried hundreds of cases and evidentiary proceedings, and reviewed on appeal thousands of trials. This firsthand knowledge and experience provides unique insight into the proper application of rules of evidence and procedure, and an understanding of how the rulings of the Supreme Court impact the people of Michigan. These life experiences contribute greatly to my effectiveness as a Supreme Court Justice.

TMD: Can you tell me a little bit about your platform and what you would hope to accomplish on the Michigan Supreme Court?

BZ: The greatest challenge facing Michigan’s court system is the denial of meaningful access to the civil justice system. More than 50% of the people in need of legal services in Michigan do not have access to a lawyer, and over 90% of low income people do not even recognize they have legal problems when they are confronted with them. Unlike the criminal justice system, there is no constitutional right to a lawyer in civil cases. Nonetheless, civil cases involve issues of critical importance to Michiganders, like housing, child custody, domestic disputes and debt collection. To address the civil justice gap, the Supreme Court formed in 2021 a Justice for All Commission, which I co-chair. We are rethinking how legal services are provided to those in need, and implementing strategies to expand access to and enhance the quality of the civil legal justice system in Michigan.

TMD: Is there anything you want to say to college students?

BZ: It is important for students to vote in all elections, not just judicial elections. The future is yours and casting educated votes for those in your government is not only your civic duty but also an excellent investment into your future.

Daily Staff Reporter Caroline Wang can be reached at