Michigan House Republicans float plan to increase oversight, access at unemployment agency

Report: Israel-bound Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bernstein in Dubai months after border closes

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Editor's Note: Justice Richard Bernstein, who is now in Israel, says he spent more time in Dubai after being asked to extend his stay. You can read that story here.

A planned trip to Israel has left Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein living in Dubai for the last months, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Bernstein told the publication he was quarantined in the country for two weeks while en route to Israel in January, but Israel closed its borders and he chose to stay rather than return to Michigan.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein.

Since the state's highest court has been meeting virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 46-year-old has still been able to connect with the court, was vaccinated and has lectured on disability rights, the Post reported.

“I had already started becoming close with so many incredible people here and so I decided to stay back,” Bernstein told the publication. “As a blind person it is very challenging to travel and do things on your own. But the beauty of this country is that you are never alone. So many people have helped me around here that I know this area like the back of my hand.”

Bernstein, who grew up in Michigan and is considered the nation's first blind state Supreme Court justice, was elected to the court in November 2014.

He has been known for his recitation and memorization of legal texts. And during the pandemic, the Democrat has argued against limiting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's powers. He did not side with Republican-nominated colleagues in a 4-3 decision to overturn the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.

Bernstein has been an advocate for others with disabilities. After graduating from Northwestern University Law School, he joined the law firm headed by his dad, Sam, and led a division that handled pro bono disability rights litigation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In 2012, he was hit by a speeding bicyclist while in Manhattan's Central Park preparing for what was going to be his 18th New York Marathon. He remained hospitalized for 10 weeks with a fractured pelvis and other injuries.

In 2015, he traveled the state with then-Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to promote the hiring of people with disabilities. Their tour followed an executive order from then-Gov. Rick Snyder directing state government to set the example and guide businesses to make adjustments tailored to their special hires.