Detroit Evening Report: Michigan Supreme Court rules judges must use preferred pronouns

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The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that will require judges and court personnel to address people who appear before the court by their preferred pronouns.

The rule, which goes into effect, Jan. 1, 2024, was proposed after a Court of Appeals judge wrote an opinion blasting a defendant’s request to be referred to as “they.” But a Supreme Court majority agreed that using one’s preferred salutation or personal pronouns is a gesture of civility and respect. 

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“In order to be fair and impartial, courts, as the face of the third branch of government, must conduct business in a way that does not give the appearance of misgendering individuals, intentionally or otherwise,” wrote Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Welch in the order. “A primary goal of this change is to ensure that the judiciary operates in a manner that is objectively respectful of the individual identity and personal pronouns of the members of the public that we serve, regardless of the subjective viewpoints of individuals working within the court system.”

Two Republican-nominated justices dissented, saying the new rule is unnecessary and has the judiciary needlessly wading into a social debate. 

“To the extent this Court is merely attempting to ensure that all litigants are treated respectfully, this rule change is entirely unnecessary,” said dissenting Justice Brian Zahra. “Our Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2(B), provides that ‘a judge should treat every person fairly, with courtesy and respect.’ This is accomplished without the proposed rule.”

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Other headlines for Sept. 29, 2023:

  • UAW President Shawn Fain announced this morning the union will expand its strike against Detroit automakers, affecting an additional 7,000 workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly and GM’s Lansing Delta Township plants. Fain says new Stellantis sites were not added this week because of advances made at the bargaining table on Friday.
  • Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has announced he will run for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan, according to two people familiar with the matter. Craig — who was a leading GOP candidate for governor last year before fraudulent signatures on his paperwork derailed his campaign — will compete as a Republican for a seat that has been held by a Democrat for more than 20 years.
  • Colonel James Grady, a 25-year veteran with Michigan State Police, has been named the new MSP commander. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the promotion on Thursday. He succeeds Colonel Joe Gasper who is retiring. Grady is the third Black officer to serve as commander of the Michigan State Police.
  • Gesher Human Services will host a webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6 on budgeting, refinance and loan forgiveness for those preparing to resume student loan payments. Those interested can register at For more information email or call 248-233-4299. 
  • Detroit’s third annual Black College Expo is set for 1o a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday at Huntington Place. The free event offers students a chance to interview with more than 50 colleges, get accepted and get scholarships on the spot. There will also be seminars, speakers and prizes. Register at 

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  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.