Michigan Supreme Court
Kurtis Wilder is a Michigan Supreme Court justice who is running for his first full term. He was appointed to the court by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in May 2017 following the resignation of former Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. These are nonpartisan races but candidates are nominated to run by each political party. Wilder was nominated by the Michigan Republican Party.
On his campaign website, Wilder describes his judicial philosophy as a belief “…that a court’s most basic function is to facilitate and make every effort to secure equal justice under the law. To this end, a Justice should decide what the law is, not what it ought to be, and then apply that law as dictated by the facts in the case. A Justice should not legislate from the bench, substituting his or her policy preferences for those of the legislative and executive branches, but instead should apply the law as written.”
In a recent case related to the Ann Arbor community, Wilder dissented in a 4-3 ruling that upheld a decision by the Ann Arbor and Clio school districts to ban guns from their schools. According to a report in the Detroit News, Wilder concurred with the majority in part but wanted to hold more arguments about whether the district policies conflict with laws enacted by the Legislature.
Prior to his appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court, Wilder served as a judge on the Michigan First District Court of Appeals. He was initially appointed to that position in 1998 by Republican Gov. John Engler. Wilder was then elected in 2000, and re-elected in 2004, 2010 and 2016.
He is a past president of the Michigan Judges Association, and former chairman of the State Bar Judicial Conference.
Wilder is a former judge on the Washtenaw County Circuit Court. He was appointed to that court in March 1992 by Republican Gov. John Engler, then won election in November of that year. He was the first black judge elected to the circuit bench in Washtenaw County, and served until December 1998.
He previously was involved with several community groups in the Ann Arbor area, including service on the boards of the Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), The Sphinx Organization, Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Symphony, and American Red Cross, Washtenaw County Chapter. He currently serves on the boards of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, and Interlochen Center for the Arts.
He began his legal career as an attorney with Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith in Lansing and with Butzel Long in Detroit.
Wilder received an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan. His law degree is also from UM.
Wilder lives in Canton. He has two adult children, Alycia and Klifton.
Mary Doster, treasurer of the nonprofit Michigan Redistricting Resource Institute, is serving as treasurer for Wilder's campaign. Doster also is campaign treasurer for the other Republican Supreme Court candidate, Elizabeth Clement.
Kurtis Wilder: In The News
Amid jeers, Michigan Republicans select a supreme court justice who strayed – Bridge Magazine, Aug. 25, 2018
Republican Supreme Court justices have ties to Michigan gerrymandering group – Bridge Magazine, July 31, 2018
Schools can ban guns, Michigan Supreme Court rules – Detroit News, July 27, 2018
No-Fault’s ‘Innocent Third-Party Rule’ No Longer Exists, Says Michigan Supreme Court – Speaker Law Blog, July 25, 2018
Should state Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from gerrymandering case? – Michigan Radio, July 13, 2018
GOP justices face tough choice in gerrymandering case – Detroit Free Press, July 11, 2018
Michigan Supreme Court decides Charlevoix County-based probate case – Petoskey News, June 25, 2018
Michigan justices backed by opponents of redistricting proposal may decide its fate – Bridge Magazine, June 8, 2018
Michigan Supreme Court Justice keynote speaker at Law Day – WBCH, May 3, 2018
Law Day serves as civics lesson, celebration – The Hastings Banner, May 3, 2018
10+ Years of Alternative Sentencing Called a Success by Courts – WDET, April 19, 2018
Mich. high court justice Wilder gets Harold Hood award – Detroit News, July 6, 2017
Snyder names Judge Kurtis Wilder to Michigan Supreme Court – Detroit Free Press, May 9, 2017
Appellate Court Judge Kurtis Wilder faces opponent for first time – Arab American News, Sept. 30, 2016
Court rules against townships in wind farm dispute – Lansing State Journal, June 19, 2015
Wilder wins seat on Circuit Court – Ann Arbor News, Nov. 4, 1992