Breaking ground

. December 3, 2012.
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No one could call Bridget Mary McCormack a slacker. The 46-year old Ann Arbor mom ran for, and won, a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court in November. She did it all while practicing law, working as a University of Michigan Law School professor and raising four teenagers. Her husband Steven Croley is no idler, either. He’s deputy White House counsel in the Obama administration.

“I want all the people who voted for me, and those who didn’t, to feel good about the work the Court does and have confidence in its outcomes,” McCormack said.

How did she juggle her job, politics and motherhood?

“You get up every day and work until you go to bed,” said McCormack, laughing.

Most little girls growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s didn’t imagine they could become a lawyer, and fewer thought they might work as a Supreme Court Justice. McCormack is thrilled that her our daughter doesn’t face that hurdle. ”I don’t think our kids view their gender as predicting their careers,” she said. “I had great parents who went out of their way to convince my sister and I that we could do anything we wanted in the world.”

McCormack turned running for office into a family project, a practice she started before she even imagined what the future would bring. “We’ve involved our kids in our work substantially through the years,” she said. “When they were little and I had to go to court, I took them with me.” 

Kids and politics can be a tough match, especially with the mean tone taken by many running for office. One TV ad was especially rough. “It was misleading and false,” she said. “I felt bad for my kids who heard from other kids at school about it.” Before the campaign, McCormack and her husband talked to their youngsters about what could happen and told them the family shouldn’t spend a moment worrying about it. “That’s one of the downsides of politics,” she said.

She decided to run for office at the urging of her husband nearly two years ago. McCormack earned the support of constituency groups and was formally nominated by the Michigan Democratic Party at their September convention. 

While voters make their choice for Michigan Supreme Court Justice from the non-partisan portion of the ballot, candidates are selected to run for the office by the state Republican and Democratic parties. “The problem with that is even when the court makes a rule of law decision, everyone views it as a political decision,” she said. McCormack said she supports full disclosure of campaign financing to help increase future public confidence in the
judicial process.

McCormack will leave her teaching post at the University of Michigan this month after a 14-year stint. “I love my students and colleagues,” she said. “Its a very melancholy feeling.”