Bernard Friedman

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Bernard Friedman
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #3
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Active:   4/20/1988 - 1/1/2009
Chief:   2004 - 2009
Senior:   1/1/2009 - Present
Preceded by:   Robert DeMascio
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   Detroit, MI
Law School:   Detroit College of Law, J.D., 1968
Military service:   U.S. Army 1967 - 1973

Bernard A. Friedman is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He joined the court in 1988 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Friedman assumed senior status on January 1, 2009.

Early life and education

A native of Detroit, Friedman graduated with his law degree from Detroit Mercy College of Law in 1968.[1]

Military service

Before entering the legal profession, Friedman served as a U.S. Army Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps from 1967 to 1968 on active duty, and continued for five more years as a U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant in the JAG Corps from 1968 to 1973.[1]

Professional career

After serving in active duty, Friedman was a felony trial attorney in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office from 1969 to 1970 before working for 12 years in private practice in Detroit and Southfield from 1974 to 1982. Friedman then served as a state judge in Michigan's 48th District from 1982 to 1988.[1]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Michigan

Friedman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on February 2, 1988, to a seat vacated by Robert DeMascio as DeMasico applied for senior status. Friedman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 19, 1988, on a full Senate vote and received commission on April 20, 1988. In 2004, Friedman became the chief judge of the Eastern District of Michigan before assuming senior status in 2009.[1] He was succeeded to this post by Gershwin Drain.

Notable cases

Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage challenged (2014)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (DeBoer v. Snyder, 12-CV-10285)

On February 25, 2014, a case challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban was brought in the Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Friedman presided over the case, which was brought by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two women in the state. They challenged Michigan's Marriage Amendment, Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment approved by 58.6% of voters in 2004.[2] The case was initiated in 2012 after DeBoer and Rowse were denied the ability to adopt one another's children under state law.[3] Judge Friedman allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage in August 2012. The law was defended in court by the Michigan State Attorney General's Office.

On March 21, 2014, after a two-week trial Judge Friedman struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage as an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, writing:[4]

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples.[5][6]

Judge Friedman further noted that his decision "affirmed the enduring principle that . . . the guarantee of equal protection must prevail." Since the federal ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, federal judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans in a number of states, including Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma.[3] In those cases, judges have opted to stay their rulings pending appeal. Here, Judge Friedman notably made no mention of such a delay, meaning that same-sex couples in Michigan could potentially obtain marriage licenses on the next business day.[5]

On the same day Judge Friedman's ruling was announced publicly, Michigan's attorney general filed an emergency appeal with the Sixth Circuit, requesting that the ruling be stayed and reconsidered.[4][5] The Sixth Circuit issued a temporary injunction against Friedman's decision on the following day, after about 300 same-sex couples had already been married.[7]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Robert DeMascio
Eastern District of Michigan
Seat #3
Succeeded by:
Gershwin Drain

MichiganMichigan Supreme CourtMichigan Court of AppealsMichigan Circuit CourtMichigan District CourtsMichigan Probate CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of MichiganUnited States District Court for the Western District of MichiganUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of MichiganUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of MichiganUnited States Court of Appeals for the Sixth CircuitMichigan countiesMichigan judicial newsMichigan judicial electionsJudicial selection in MichiganMichiganTemplate.jpg