Gov. Rick Snyder appointed University Law Prof. Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The appointment takes effect Oct. 1. Larsen is assuming the seat vacated after the resignation of Justice Mary Beth Kelly, who plans to return to a private law practice.
Larsen began working at the University’s law school in 1998. She is also the University’s special counsel to the school’s dean for student and graduate activities.
Previously, Larsen was a legal adviser for President George W. Bush’s administration and a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law.
Tuesday, Snyder expressed his confidence in Larsen’s abilities.
“I think we’ve got an outstanding person in Joan Larsen,” Snyder said. “She’s got a tremendous background in terms of experience base. In terms of both her educational background and her legal background.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also issued a statement in support of Larsen’s new position.
“I am delighted with the appointment of Joan Larsen as the new Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court,” Schuette wrote. “She will be a strong voice for rule of law for the State of Michigan.”
During the event announcing the appointment, Larsen both expressed her eagerness to assume the post and outlined her judicial philosophy.
“I’m looking forward to joining the court and starting a new chapter in my legal career as we wrestle with some of the most important legal issues facing the state,” Larsen said.
Larsen, who has not previously served on the bench, articulated her belief in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
“I believe in enforcing the laws as written by the Legislature, as signed by the governor,” Larsen said. “I believe in enforcing the text as written. I don’t think judges are a policy-making branch of government and our role is to serve the people by enforcing the laws as they were written by the Legislature.”
Larsen also discussed her time advising the Bush administration and the controversial legal advice he received about interrogation methods such as waterboarding — a method meant to make the interrogee feel as though he or she is drowning. She told reporters she was not involved in preparing the classified documents on interrogation methods.
“I read about them in the newspapers, just like you did,” Larsen said.
Adam Pritchard, Larsen’s husband and a fellow law professor at the University, plans to conclude his sabbatical and take over Larsen’s current University course load.