Joan Larsen

United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit

Joan Louise Larsen (born December 1968) is an American attorney and jurist serving as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She previously was an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 2015 to 2017.


  • I am often asked what it was like to be a woman clerking for Justice Scalia. “Much like being a man clerking for him” is my easy answer. Justice Scalia believed in one simple principle: That law came to the court as an is not an ought. Statutes, cases and the Constitution were to be read for what they said, not for what the judges wished they would say. Each of his opinions needed to conform to that principle and to be written clearly, forcefully and accurately. If you could help him with that, you were useful to him. If not, then not. When we were working, we sometimes joked that he could not even remember our names.
  • My job is to faithfully interpret the work of the Legislature and to try and communicate to our judgments as clearly as possible, I never signed on for the job of philosopher king, If I thought I was any good at crafting policy, I would be in a different branch of government.
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