Law
5:41 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Meet Bernard Friedman, the federal judge who decided to hear a challenge to gay marriage ban

Bernard Friedman is the U.S. District Judge who today refused to throw out a case that challenged Michigan's ban on gay marriage.

Friedman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1988 and he became the Chief Judge of the District in 2004. 

Now he has senior status, which a federal judge can opt for instead of retiring. A senior status judge only hears the cases that the Chief Judge assigns to him or her. 

Friedman was born in Detroit in 1943 and was a U.S. Army Lieutenant before getting his J.D from Detroit College of Law in 1968 (now known as Michigan State University College of Law). He began practicing law in Michigan the same year.

He has received a lot of recognition, and was named one of Michigan's most respected judges by Lawyer's Weekly in 1990.

A few of Friedman's decisions

  • In 2001 he struck down the University of Michigan Law School admissions policy, saying that "Whatever solution the law school elects to pursue, it must be race neutral."
  • In 2005 Friedman dismissed a case challenging the No Child Left Behind Act. The NEA and school districts  argued that schools shouldn't have to follow the act's established rules because the government wasn't paying for it. Friedman said that Congress set aside sufficient funding and that schools had to comply with regulations. 
  • In 2011 Friedman dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency against DTE Energy. The EPA wanted DTE to install more pollution controls  at the state's largest coal-fired power plant. Friedman said it was too soon to tell what sort of impact recent changes at the plant would have on the environment. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom