Yesterday, Justice Kurtis Wilder conceded to Megan Cavanagh his seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, after a close election. With 96% of the polls reporting, Justice-elect Cavanagh edged out Justice Wilder by 62,000 votes, which is only 1% of ballots cast. Nevertheless, it is a notable feat to unseat an incumbent, especially with a campaign that maintained a positive message. In January, Justice-elect Cavanagh will become the 114th Justice and the 12th woman to serve on the bench. Justice Elizabeth Clement, who was appointed by Governor Snyder in November of 2017, took the lead with approximately 30% of the votes, retaining her seat.
Justice-elect Cavanagh is a well-respected appellate advocate and former chair of the State Bar of Michigan's Appellate Practice Section. Her father, former-Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, served several terms on the Michigan Supreme Court, from 1983 to 2014. He served as Chief Justice from 1991 to 1995. Former-Justice Michael Cavanagh is not the first on the Supreme Court whose offspring has also taken a position on the same court, but he seems to be the first since Michigan joined the union. Judge James Witherell served on the Supreme Court for the Michigan territory from 1808 to 1820, and his second son, Benjamin Witherell briefly sat on the Michigan Supreme Court in 1857.