John J. Bursch

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John Bursch
Solicitor General of Michigan
In office
February 28, 2011 – December 6, 2013
GovernorRick Snyder
Preceded byEric Restuccia
Succeeded byAaron Lindstrom
Personal details
Born1972 (age 45–46)
Political partyRepublican
EducationWestern Michigan University (BA)
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (JD)

John J. Bursch (born 1972) was the 10th Michigan Solicitor General. He was appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on February 28, 2011.[1] Prior to being Michigan Solicitor General, Bursch served as chair of the Appellate Practice and Public-Affairs Litigation Groups at Warner Norcross & Judd. Bursch argued in more than 6% of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court heard during his tenure as Solicitor General.[2] Bursch returned to private practice at Warner Norcross & Judd in December 2013,[3] and founded his own law firm in 2016, Bursch Law.


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.[citation needed]

Bursch currently has a wife and 5 children.[citation needed]

Legal career[edit]

From 1997 to 1998, Bursch served as a law clerk to James B. Loken on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Bursch then entered private practice with Warner Norcross & Judd, where he founded and chaired the firm's Appellate Practice and Public-Affairs Litigation groups. From 2011 to 2013, Bursch served as Michigan's 10th Solicitor General. As Michigan Solicitor General, Bursch argued 12 times in the Michigan Supreme Court and eight times in the U.S. Supreme Court. Afterwards, he returned to private practice with Warner Norcross & Judd until 2016, when he formed his own private law firm.

As of 2018, Bursch has appeared in front of the Michigan Supreme Court 27 times, and in front of the US Supreme Court 11 times.[4] He has since represented the respondents in the landmark Supreme Court Case, Obergefell v. Hodges, and is currently[when?] representing Nick Lyon in a case on the Flint Water Crisis.[5][6]

Obergefell v. Hodges[edit]

Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark federal lawsuit challenging whether states might refuse to license same-sex marriages, or recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. It was the result of a consolidation of six lower-court cases, from the states of Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. The original Michigan case was DeBoer v. Snyder, where a same-sex couple argued that Michigan's adoption law was unconstitutional, and sued then Governor Richard Snyder.[7] During this initial case, Bursch was the counsel of record for Governor Snyder.[8]

Bursch, who had left the position as Michigan Solicitor General, was invited to argue this case before the Supreme Court by then State Attorney General Bill Schuette.[9] He, 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. He and Whalen lost the case.[10]


Michigan Super Lawyers has listed Bursch as one of Michigan's Top 100 lawyers.[11] He has also been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and is a Fellow of The Litigation Counsel of America.[12] Bursch has received three Distinguished Brief Awards for his advocacy before the Michigan Supreme Court.[13][14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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, and in 2014, Bursch was again awarded the Best Brief Award for his brief in Burt v. Titlow.[18]


  1. ^ Sellek, John; Yearout, Joy (February 28, 2011). "Schuette Appoints Bursch Solicitor General". State of Michigan. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Gershman, Jacob (October 15, 2013). "Michigan's Solicitor General Has Had a Busy Three Years". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 8, 2018. (Registration required (help)).
  3. ^ Yearout, Joy (October 30, 2013). "Schuette Announces Solicitor General John Bursch Will Return to Private Practice". State of Michigan. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  4. ^ "John J. Bursch". Oyez. Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  5. ^ Pierret, Ann (August 20, 2018). "Nick Lyon's legal team preparing to appeal decision sending his case to trial". ABC12. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Livengood, Chad (July 8, 2018). "Michigan health chief gets top attorney for closing arguments in Flint case". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, DeBoer v. Snyder, No. 12-CV-10285 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 21, 2014) (complaint filed Jan. 23, 2012); DeBoer, slip op. at 1–4.
  8. ^ "No. 14-571". Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 25, 2015). "Here are the lawyers facing off in same-sex marriage case". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Barbash, Fred; Berman, Mark; Somashekhar, Sandhya (April 28, 2015). "Supreme Court hears same-sex marriage case: Who said what (with audio)". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  11. ^ "Top 100: 2010 Michigan Super Lawyers List". Super Lawyers. 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  12. ^ "Litigation Counsel of America". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11.
  13. ^ "Law Review Presents Distinguished Briefs (p. 10)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-24.
  14. ^ Gubbins, Roberta M. (June 24, 2010). "Cooley Law Review hosts 25th annual Distinguished Brief Award Banquet". Legal News. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  15. ^ "ABA Statement Regarding Elena Kagan" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Lee Honors College Alumni Achievement Award".[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Yearout, Joy. "Michigan Solicitor General's Office Receives National Award". State of Michigan. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  18. ^ "John J. Bursch Awarded National Association of Attorneys General Best Brief Award". Warner Norcross + Jude. June 9, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Eric Restuccia
Solicitor General of Michigan
Succeeded by
Aaron Lindstrom