Trump has 3 Michigan judges on U.S. Supreme Court list

Michael Gerstein and Chad Livengood The Detroit News

Michigan has a shot at getting one of its judges appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court under President-elect Donald Trump.

In separate May and September announcements, the Republican New York businessman named three judges from Michigan as part of his short list for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

The GOP-controlled U.S. Senate has declined to hold hearings or a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the nation’s highest court. Garland was nominated in March.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued the next president should appoint Scalia’s replacement, putting the decision in the hands of the country’s voters.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and Justice Joan Larsen and 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Raymond M. Kethledge were among 21 judges and attorneys named by the Trump campaign as possible nominees to the high court.

Kethledge was nominated for the federal bench by President George W. Bush and confirmed in June 2008. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit hears appeals from the federal district courts in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Larsen this week called it “an incredible honor” to be on Trump’s list, but said “I had no contact from the Trump campaign either before he announced his list of potential” nominees.

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Larsen to Michigan’s highest court in October 2015 to fill a vacancy. On Tuesday, she was elected to a partial two-year term on the state Supreme Court and can seek re-election to a full eight-year term in 2018.

Larsen, a Republican, said she wasn’t sure if the attention she received after appearing on Trump’s short list helped her defeat Wayne County Judge Deborah Thomas.

“You know, it’s hard to say how something like that effects a race,” Larsen said. “I think there are a lot of people that believe in what we believe in, that is the rule of law, which is of course the message of my former boss, Justice Scalia.”

Young, a Republican nominee for the technically nonpartisan state Supreme Court, is the highest ranking African-American elected official in state government. He told The News in September that “it’s news to me” that he was put on the list.

mgerstein@detroitnews.com