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Trump names Michigan Supreme Court justice to federal appeals court

Joan Larsen
University of Michigan Law School
screen grab from YouTube video

UPDATED @ 8:48 on 5/9/17

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen has been chosen by President Trump to serve on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Trump once put Larsen on his list of judges and lawyers he would consider naming to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer made the announcement at the White House, naming Larsen as one of 10 new federal judges appointed by the president.


“These 10 individuals the president has chosen were chosen for their deep knowledge of the law, and their commitment to upholding constitutional principles,” said Spicer.   


Larsen has been on the bench only 19 months, since Governor Rick Snyder named her to the state Supreme Court. She is the most junior member of the court.


Before that she was a University of Michigan law professor, a Justice Department lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration, and a clerk for the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


Larsen must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. After that, Snyder will get to name a replacement, who will have to face voters on the ballot next year.


Snyder issued this statement from his office:


Justice Larsen has served the people of Michigan very well as a Supreme Court Justice and is an outstanding choice for President Trump to appoint to the federal appeals court. It is disappointing that we will lose Justice Larsen on the Michigan Supreme Court because her legal expertise has been such a great asset. She deserves the nomination to the Sixth Circuit federal bench and I encourage the U.S. Senate to confirm her for that position as soon as possible.


Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Markman issued this statement:


Justice Joan Larsen has brought to the Michigan Supreme Court a lifetime dedicated to legal scholarship, regard for our Constitution, and abiding respect for the rule of law. While today’s nomination by the President is a well-deserved recognition of these attributes, Joan nonetheless will be missed by her colleagues who have very much enjoyed working with her on behalf of the people of Michigan. We plan to take full advantage of her judicial insights and contributions until she is finally confirmed by the United States Senate.


Larsen, following a tradition of nominees remaining quiet prior to confirmation, did not respond to an interview request.


On the day her nomination was announced, the court issued an opinion written by Larsen. It found the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services failed to sufficiently assist a woman with her mental disability before terminating her parental rights.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story had the wrong name for the Michigan Supreme Court Justice.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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