Marilyn Kelly became the 99th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1997. This was after she had worked as an attorney for 17 years in Michigan and served on the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1988 to her election to the high court in 1996.1
Kelly earned a B.A. degree from Eastern Michigan University before studying abroad at LaSorbonne, University of Paris in France for a year. Upon returning, she received her master’s degree from Middlebury College. Kelly taught French language and literature in the Grosse Point Public Schools, at Albion College, and at Eastern Michigan University before attending law school at Wayne State University.
Marilyn Kelly has made important contributions to the success of Michigan women in her roles as educator, lawyer, and Justice.
As an educator, Kelly was the first woman to be elected to and made President of the Michigan State Board of Education. She served on the Board for 12 years, the last two as its President. During this time, Kelly strived to improve the approach of teachers and educational texts in the education of young girls.
In her role as a lawyer, Kelly was a member and President of both the Women’s Bar Association and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She worked to further the careers of other women in the legal profession during her involvement in these organizations.
And as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Marilyn Kelly has worked both inside and outside of the courtroom to eliminate bias in the legal system. She co-chairs the Open Justice Commission, an organization of the State Bar of Michigan committed to making justice available to all. An important part involves improving the treatment of women in the courts as litigants, attorneys, and jurors.
1 Interview: Marilyn Kelly, 2002.