Michigan adds 13,102 cases, 64 deaths from COVID-19 over last week

Larsen’s hearing for federal bench set for next week

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The Senate Judiciary Committee has set the nomination hearing for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen for Wednesday in Washington.

Larsen, a former University of Michigan law professor, was nominated in May by President Donald Trump for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over district courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

If confirmed by the Senate, Larsen would replace Michigan Judge David McKeague, who is taking “senior status” — a form of semi-retirement.

The committee will consider the nominations of four others besides Larsen at Wednesday’s hearing at 10 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Also on the calendar that day are Amy Coney Barrett, who is nominated for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; two nominees for federal judgeships in Tennessee; and Eric S. Dreiband, who was selected to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said it’s rare for the Judiciary Committee to hear from two federal appellate nominees at the same hearing.

“Wednesday’s hearing was noticed at the 11th hour, along with two district nominees, plus a controversial Assistant Attorney General nominee,” said Tobias, who studies federal judicial selection.

“Senate Judiciary Committee members will not have much time to prepare, and they will have little time to ask questions at the hearing.”

Trump, a Republican, last year named Larsen, 48, among his possible U.S. Supreme Court nominees. She is a former Federalist Society member who clerked for conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year and whose seat was filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

After her nomination in May, Larsen’s hearing was delayed for several months as the administration and committee processed her paperwork, and Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township reviewed her record.

The Senate Judiciary Committee traditionally waits on a nominee's home state senators to submit blue slips consenting to their moving forward with hearings.

The White House did not consult with Michigan’s senators ahead of time on Larsen’s nomination – as previous administrations traditionally had done. Stabenow and Peters returned their blue slips in early August, allowing Larsen’s nomination to the federal bench to advance without saying whether they would vote for her.

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Larsen to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court in September 2015. She won a partial, two-year term last fall and could seek re-election to a full eight-year term in 2018 if her nomination is not approved.