Statement on Appointment of Bush Administration Attorney to Michigan Supreme Court

October 01, 2015

DETROIT – In a press conference today, Governor Rick Snyder officially announced his appointment of University of Michigan legal professor Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court. From January 2002 through May 2003, Larsen served as deputy assistant U.S. attorney general in the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. During her tenure, the OLC weakened the rule of law by issuing several legal opinions authorizing torture, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and other abuses of power. While it’s unclear the general role Larsen played in crafting policies, the ACLU has learned through ongoing litigation that Larsen co-authored a secret memo in March 2002 regarding detainees' right to habeas corpus, the constitutional right to challenge one's detention in a court of law.

The following statement can be attributed to Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director:

“As a matter of policy, the ACLU neither opposes nor endorses political appointees. However, given Professor Larsen’s tenure in the OLC, which authorized torture, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention and other abuses, this appointment should be accompanied by full disclosure about the role Larsen played in the development of those policies. In addition, we strongly urge Professor Larsen to ask the DOJ to disclose the contents of the memo she penned regarding unlawful and indefinite detention.

After 9/11, the U.S. government, with the approval of the office of legal counsel, illegally kidnapped, detained and tortured numerous prisoners. As a Supreme Court Justice, she has the important responsibility for safeguarding our civil rights and liberties. In seeking transparency, Professor Larsen can do just that by shedding much-needed light on one of the darkest chapters in American history.”

To read public OLC memos obtained by the ACLU, a chart of the still-secret OLC memos, a video and information about the ACLU's FOIA litigation, go to:www.aclu.org/olcmemos.