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John J Bursch

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John Bursch


John J. Bursch wwwicleorgimagescontributorphotoswebjpegP57

Western Michigan University, University of Minnesota Law School

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John J. Bursch (born 1972) was the 10th Michigan Solicitor General and supervised the state's appellate litigation with a special emphasis on Michigan and U.S. Supreme Court disputes. He was appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on February 28, 2011. Until he became Solicitor General, Bursch served as chair of the Appellate Practice and Public-Affairs Litigation Groups at Warner Norcross & Judd. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bursch argued in more than 6% of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court heard during his tenure as SG. Bursch returned to private practice at Warner Norcross & Judd in December 2013.



Bursch graduated from Grand Ledge High School in 1990, and attended Western Michigan University, where he received degrees in Mathematics and Music summa cum laude and graduated from the Lee Honors College in 1994. In 1997, Bursch received his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he served as Chief Note & Comment Editor for the Minnesota Law Review and as Commencement Speaker.

After graduation, Bursch served as a law clerk to the Honorable James B. Loken on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He then entered private practice with Warner Norcross & Judd, where he founded and chaired the firm's Appellate Practice and Public-Affairs Litigation groups.

He has a wife and 5 children.

Highlights as Michigan Solicitor General

As Michigan Solicitor General, Bursch argued 12 times in the Michigan Supreme Court and eight times in the U.S. Supreme Court. Highlights include:

March 30, 2011: Argued Talk America v. Michigan Bell Telephone Company, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving how much incumbent telecommunication carriers may charge competitive carriers for interconnecting with the incumbent network. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Michigan's favor on June 9, 2011. U.S. Supreme Court Opinion.

September 7, 2011: Argued before the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of a newly enacted Michigan statute that lifted Michigan's pension-tax exemption for public employees. The Michigan Supreme Court upheld the statute. Michigan Supreme Court Opinion.

October 4, 2011: Argued Howes v. Fields, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving when police must provide a Miranda warning to someone who is already in prison. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript. The Court reinstated respondent's sentence and agreed with Michigan that determining when a prison inmate is entitled to a Miranda warning requires an analysis of all the facts and circumstances. U.S. Supreme Court Opinion.

October 6, 2011: Argued People v. Likine, a Michigan Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of Michigan's felony statute for the non-payment of child support. Michigan Supreme Court Video. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed that Michigan's statute is constitutional and set an extraordinarily high bar for those claiming that it was impossible for them to comply with a court's child-support order.

October 31, 2011: Argued Lafler v. Cooper, a U.S. Supreme Court involving the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel when rejecting a plea offer. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Michigan that a new trial is an inappropriate remedy for a defendant claiming that he rejected a favorable plea offer based on counsel's bad advice. But the Court ultimately held, 5-4, that a defendant who successfully proves ineffective assistance has a constitutional right to reconsider the rejected plea. U.S. Supreme Court Opinion.

March 23, 2012: Argued before a special three-judge panel to defend the validity of Michigan's legislative redistricting for the Michigan House of Representatives. The panel granted Michigan's motion to dismiss. Detroit News.

June 11, 2012: The U.S. Supreme Court summarily vacated the Sixth Circuit's grant of habeas in Howes v. Walker based on Michigan's cert. petition. U.S. Supreme Court Order

July 25, 2012: Argued in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of the Michigan Governor and Attorney General regarding the validity of a ballot initiative in Stand Up for Democracy v. Secretary of State. Michigan Supreme Court Video. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed with that ballot initiatives must "strictly comply" with constitutional requirements, overriding a decades-old Court of Appeals precedent that allowed substantial compliance.

August 30, 2012: Argued in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of the Michigan Governor in The People Should Decide v. The Board of State Canvassers, the Michigan Attorney General in Citizens for More Michigan Jobs v. Secretary of State, and both the Governor and the Attorney General in Protect Our Jobs v. Board of State Canvassers. Michigan Supreme Court Video. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed to keep one of three challenged amendments to Michigan's Constitution off of the November ballot, but approved the other two.

October 11, 2012: Argued two medical-marijuana cases in the Michigan Supreme Court, State of Michigan v. McQueen and People v. Bylsma. Michigan Supreme Court video. The Supreme Court ruled in Michigan's favor in both cases, holding in McQueen that patient-to-patient transfers of medical marijuana are prohibited in all circumstances. Michigan Supreme Court Opinion, and holding in Bylsma that registered caregivers may possess no more than 12 marijuana plants per patient, Michigan Supreme Court Opinion.

February 25, 2013: Argued McQuiggin v. Perkins, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the statute of limitations for habeas petitions. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript. The Court confirmed that the "actual innocence" doctrine applies to the statute of limitations period but said that delay could be held against the habeas petitioner and expressed its doubt that the respondent could satisfy the high actual-innocence threshold here.

April 24, 2013: Argued Metrish v. Lancaster, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the retroactive application of a Michigan Supreme Court decision abolishing the diminished-capacity defense. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript.

October 8, 2013: Argued Burt v. Titlow, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a defendant's attempt to reclaim a lost plea deal after withdrawing the plea and being convicted following a jury trial of second-degree murder. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript.

October 15, 2013: Argued Schuette v. Coalition to Defend, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the validity of a Michigan constitutional provision that prohibits discrimination or the use of preferences based on race, sex, or ethnicity in college admissions, public employment, and public contracting. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript.

December 2, 2013: Argued State of Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the scope of tribal immunity when a tribe engages in illegal, off-reservation gaming. U.S. Supreme Court Audio and Argument Transcript.

Obergefell v. Hodges

Obergefell v. Hodges (/ˈoʊbɜrɡʌfɛl/) was a landmark federal lawsuit challenging either a state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions or a state's refusal to license same-sex marriages, or both. Bursch, along with Joseph R. Whalen an associate solicitor general from Tennessee, represented the states refusing to recognize same-sex marriages. Oral arguments were heard on April 28, 2015.


Michigan Super Lawyers has listed Bursch as one of Michigan's Top 100 lawyers. He has also been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and is a Fellow of The Litigation Counsel of America. Bursch has received three Distinguished Brief Awards for his advocacy before the Michigan Supreme Court. And in 2010, Bursch was appointed to the American Bar Association committee that reviewed Elena Kagan's writings before her Senate confirmation as a United States Supreme Court Justice. Bursch has also served in leadership positions for a number of appellate bar associations and community organizations, and he is currently the immediate Past-Chair of the American Bar Association's Council of Appellate Lawyers. John is a Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, and in 2011, he was selected to be a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Association. Also in 2011, Bursch became the inaugural recipient of The Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College Alumni Achievement Award at Western Michigan University. In 2012, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) awarded Bursch and three colleagues a Supreme Court Best Brief Award for their petitioner's brief in Howes v. Fields. In 2013, NAAG again awarded Bursch and two colleagues a Supreme Court Best Brief Award for their cert. petition in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend.

Significant cases

  • Burt v. Titlow, 134 S. Ct. 10 (2013) (merits)
  • McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S. Ct. 1924 (2013) (merits)
  • Metrish v. Lancaster, 133 S. Ct. 1781 (2013) (merits)
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, __ S. Ct. __, 2013 WL 3155234 (2013) (amicus)
  • Nevada v. Jackson, 133 S. Ct. 1990 (2013) (amicus)
  • State v. McQueen, 828 N.W. 644 (Mich. 2013)
  • People v. Bylsma, 825 N.W. 543 (Mich. 2013)
  • Protect Our Jobs v. Board of State Canvassers, 822 N.W.2d 534 (Mich. 2012)
  • Stand Up for Democracy v. Secretary of State, 822 N.W.2d 159 (Mich. 2012)
  • People v. Likine, 823 N.W.2d 50 (Mich. 2012)
  • Howes v. Walker, 132 S. Ct. 2741 (2012) (merits)
  • Blueford v. Arkansas, 132 S. Ct. 2044 (2012) (amicus)
  • Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012) (amicus)
  • Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S.Ct. 1376 (2012) (merits)
  • Howes v. Fields, 132 S. Ct. 1181 (2012) (merits)
  • Douglas v. Independent Living Center, 132 S. Ct. 1204 (2012) (amicus)
  • Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012) (amicus)
  • Stovall v. Miller, 132 S. Ct. 573 (2011) (merits)
  • In re Request for Advisory Opinion Regarding Constitutionality of 2011 PA 38, 806 N.W.2d 683 (Mich. 2011)
  • Talk America, Inc. v. Michigan Bell Tel. Co., 131 S. Ct. 2254 (2011) (merits)
  • Patchak v. Salazar, 632 F.3d 702 (D.C. Cir. 2011)
  • Priority Health v. OFIR, 803 N.W.2d 132 (Mich. 2011)
  • Burleson v. Department of Environmental Quality, 808 N.W.2d 792 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • Bay City v. Bay County, 807 N.W.2d 892 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • Copus v. MEEMIC Ins. Co., 805 N.W.2d 623 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • National Wildlife Federation v. DNR, 2011 WL 1004525 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • Magellan v. Sylvan Township, 2011 WL 1901805 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • Woods v. JLG Indus., 2011 WL 2342719 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011)
  • Edry v. Adelman, 486 N.W.2d 634 (Mich. 2010)
  • Citizens for Envtl. Inquiry v. Dep't of Envtl. Quality, 2010 WL 446047 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010)
  • Spartan Graphics, Inc. v. Entermarket Corp., 2010 WL 4628643 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010)
  • Old Republic Nat'l Title Holding Co. v. First Metropolitan Title Co., 2010 WL 1056609 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010)
  • United States v. Huntington Nat'l Bank, 574 F.3d 329 (6th Cir. 2009)
  • Quixtar, Inc. v. Brady, 2009 WL 1160273 (6th Cir. 2009)
  • Hubbard v. GeoStar Financial Servs. Corp., 2009 WL 3486653 (6th Cir. 2009)
  • Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2009)
  • Oneida Charter Twp. v. Grand Ledge, 771 N.W.2d 785 (Mich. 2009)
  • Schaendorf v. Consumers Energy II, 2009 WL 563904 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009)
  • Wolverine Power Supply Coop., Inc. v. De't of Envtl. Quality, 777 N.W.2d 1 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009)
  • McKay Consulting, Inc. v. St. John Health, 2009 WL 127664 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009)
  • NSK Corp. v. Robert Bosch Corp., 2009 WL 454940 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009)
  • Reed v. Shurlow, 2009 WL 4827827 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009)
  • Michigan Ass'n of Home Builders v. Director of Dept. of Labor & Econ. Growth, 750 N.W.2d 593 (Mich. 2008)
  • Houdini Properties, LLC v. City of Romulus, 743 N.W.2d 198 (Mich. 2008)
  • Benefiel v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 759 N.W.2d 814 (Mich. 2008)
  • Tomecek v. Bavas, 759 N.W.2d 178 (Mich. 2008)
  • Moore v. Detroit Enter., L.L.C., 755 N.W.2d 686 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Beaulier v. Ford Motor Co., 2008 WL 4367541 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Brooks v. Gill Indus., Inc., 2008 WL 1914795 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Kenny v. Pioneer State Mut. Ins. Co., 2008 WL 3851837 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Smiley v. Grosse Pointe War Memorial Ass'n, 2008 WL 509874 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Wallace v. Kato, 127 S. Ct. 1091 (2007)
  • CETAC v. Kempthorne, 492 F.3d 460 (D.C. Cir. 2007)
  • In re Sealed Appellant, 2007 WL 4245417 (5th Cir. 2007)
  • ITT Indus. v. BorgWarner, Inc., 506 F.3d 452 (6th Cir. 2007)
  • Czymbor's Timber v. City of Saginaw, 733 N.W.2d 1 (Mich. 2007)
  • Sadowy v. Detroit Edison Company, 739 N.W.2d 87 (Mich. 2007)
  • Strong Sales, Inc. v. Vriesman, 2007 WL 2379516 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007)
  • Bristol West Ins. Co. v. Smith, 2007 WL 397161 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007)
  • Schaendorf v. Consumers Energy I, 739 N.W.2d 402 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007)
  • In re Howard J. Stoddard Trust, 2007 WL 4245406 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007)
  • In re John Kotsonis Irrevocable Family Trust, 2007 WL 4126669 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007)
  • Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 126 S. Ct. 1854 (2006)
  • Robert Bosch Corp. v. ASC Inc., 2006 WL 2595301 (6th Cir. 2006)
  • Metro v. Amway Asia Pacific Ltd. et al., 2006 WL 2035510 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006)
  • Lawnicki v. Wells Fargo Financial Leasing, Inc., 2006 WL 2685136 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006)
  • Irish v. Natural Gas Compression Systems, Inc., 2006 WL 2000132 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006)
  • Talbot v. RT Detroit Franchise L.L.C., 2006 WL 1084402 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006)
  • Randolph v. Reisig II, 727 N.W.2d 388 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006)
  • Sorkowitz v. Lakritz, Wissbrun & Assocs., PC, 706 N.W.2d 9 (Mich. 2005)
  • Consumers Energy v. Leo Beard, 699 N.W.2d 303 (Mich. 2005)
  • Henry v. The Dow Chemical Co., 701 N.W.2d 684 (Mich. 2005)
  • Traxler v. Rothbart, 703 N.W.2d 796 (Mich. 2005)
  • Ninowski v. McConnell, 2005 WL 2372071 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005)
  • In re Estate of Reisman, 702 N.W.2d 658 (Mich Ct. App. 2005)
  • Beauchamp v. Ford Motor Co., 205 WL 1229749 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005)
  • Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh, 125 S. Ct. 460 (2004)
  • Preserve the Dunes, Inc. v. MDEQ, 684 N.W.2d 847 (Mich. 2004)
  • Buist v. Van Haren Elec., 2004 WL 2291354 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004)
  • Morales v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 672 N.W.2d 849 (Mich. 2003)
  • Randolph v. Reisig I, 2003 WL 22049115 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003)
  • Weston v. AmeriBank, 122 S. Ct. 1172 (2002)
  • Hayner v. Old Kent Bank, 2002 WL 227016 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002)
  • American Bumper & Mfg. Co. v. TransTechnology Corp., 652 N.W.2d 252 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002)
  • Wrench L.L.C. v. Taco Bell Corp., 256 F.3d 446 (6th Cir. 2001)
  • References

    John J. Bursch Wikipedia

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