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Elizabeth Clement, a moderate on Michigan Supreme Court, named chief justice

michigan supreme court
(Shutterstock)
  • Elizabeth Clement was appointed to the court by former Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican
  • She will finish the remaining term of Bridget McCormack, who announced her retirement by the end of the year 
  • The court will hold another election in January to pick a new chief justice

LANSING — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement will serve as the next chief justice, the court unanimously voted Friday.

Clement, who was appointed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in 2017, will be the seventh woman to serve as chief justice, succeeding Bridget McCormack. McCormack plans to  retire before the end of the year, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appoints a successor.

Clement
Elizabeth Clement was an aide to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who appointed her to the high court in 2017. She won a full term in 2018.

Clement, 45, will finish the remainder of McCormack’s term as chief justice, which by tradition ends Dec. 31. McCormack in January 2019 became chief justice, a post that typically lasts two two-year terms. 

The Supreme Court will elect another chief justice in January, said court spokesperson John Nevin.

“I appreciate the confidence of my colleagues and look forward to the opportunity to serve as chief justice, working collaboratively with all stakeholders in the judicial system for the benefit of the public,” Clement said in a Monday press release.

Democratic appointees have a 4-3 majority on the bench. Clement is viewed as a moderate who sometimes aligns with more liberal judges and has angered Republicans with a series of votes, including one allowing schools to bar carrying guns on school property and another to allow Proposal 3 to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution on the November ballot.

Challengers had argued the proposal should not be allowed on the ballot because of formatting issues. Voters ultimately approved the measure.

Clement serves as the Supreme Court’s liaison to the state’s 204 “problem-solving courts,” which offer alternative programs to incarceration for nonviolent offenders who suffer from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. 

She is also a liaison to the training and child welfare services divisions within the state court administrative office.

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A longtime adviser for Snyder, Clement served as his cabinet secretary, deputy chief of staff and later chief legal counsel. She was legal counsel in the Michigan Senate in 2010 and, before then, served in the Senate Majority Policy Office between 2006 and 2010, providing legal advice to several Senate committees. 

Between 2002 and 2006, Clement was a private practice attorney specializing in family law, adoption, probate, estate planning and criminal law, according to her Supreme Court biography. 

She holds a law degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in political science.

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