Stephen Markman

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Stephen Markman
Court Information:
Michigan Supreme Court
Title:   Justice
Salary:  $165,000
Appointed by:   Gov. John Engler
Active:   1999-2020
Preceded by:   James Brickley
Past post:   Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals
Past term:   1995-1999
Past post 2:   Attorney, Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone
Past term 2:   1993-1995
Personal History
Party:   Republican
Undergraduate:   Duke University
Law School:   University of Cincinnati
Candidate 2012:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
State:  Michigan

Stephen Markman is a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. Justice Markman was appointed to this position by Governor John Engler, effective October 1, 1999. In 2004 and 2012 he was re-elected for eight-year terms. His current term expires on January 1, 2021.[1]


Markman received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati.[2]


  • 1999-2020: Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
  • 1995-1999: Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals
  • 1993-1995: Attorney, Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone
  • 1989-1993: United States Attorney for Michigan - nominated by George Bush
  • 1985-1989: Assistant Attorney General of the United States - nominated by Ronald Reagan
  • 1978-1985: Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution and Deputy Chief Counsel of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Markman has also worked as a Professor of Constitutional Law at Hillsdale College.[1][3]

Awards and associations

He has traveled to the Ukraine on behalf of the State Department and the American Bar Association to provide assistance in the development of that nation's new constitution. Justice Markman is a Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation, a Master of the Bench of the American Inns of Court, and a member of the One Hundred Club.[1]



Markman was one of seven candidates running for two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court in the November 2012 election. He received the highest percentage of the vote, winning 23.1%.[4][5] Though Michigan judicial elections are technically nonpartisan, he was nominated as a candidate at the Republican Party convention.[6][7]

See also: Michigan judicial elections, 2012


  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce.[8]

Judicial philosophy

Markman authored a piece entitled "Resisting the Ratchet" for the Summer 2008 volume of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.[9] In his essay, he speaks at length about the court and its role.

"...[A] majority of [the Michigan Supreme Court], four of its seven justices... are committed to the judicial values that are often identified with the Federalist Society - in particular, a commitment to giving faithful meaning to the words of the law and to operating within the restraints of a constitution in which the separation of powers is fundamental."
"That is, what most distinguishes the Michigan Supreme Court from other even conservative state courts of last resort has been its unwillingness to institutionalize the precedents of earlier justices who, like Justice William Douglas on the United States Supreme Court, expressed their preference 'to make, rather than to follow precedent.'"
"Instead, the Michigan Supreme Court has set as its priority the proper exercise of the 'judicial power,' to read the law evenhandedly and give it meaning by assessing its words, its grammar and syntax, its context, and its legislative purpose. The court's dominant premise has been on 'getting the law right' - moving toward the best and most faithful interpretation of the law - rather than reflexively acquiescing in prior case law that essentially reflected little more than the personal preferences of predecessor justices."

Notable cases

Denial of gay partner benefits

In a 5-2 ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan's 2004 ban against gay marriage extends to the University of Michigan and public-sector employers in gay employee benefits. Specifically, it disallows domestic-partner policies. The case was heard before the court in the spring of 2008. Justice Stephen Markman wrote the majority opinion, saying that the voter-approved law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and further, that domestic partnerships, is similar. Dissenting Justices Michael Cavanagh and Marilyn Jean Kelly said "the constitutional amendment prohibits nothing more than same-sex marriages or similar unions.[10]

Ballot petition signatures

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that regardless of signers' belief in what they were signing, an anti-affirmative action proposal will go on the November 2008 ballot. Justice Markman wrote:

The signers of these petitions did not sign the oral representations made to them by circulators; rather they signed written petitions that contained the actual language of the (ballot question). In carrying out the responsibilities of self-government, 'we the people' of Michigan are responsible for our own actions...[a person who signed the petition] cannot blame others when he signs a petition without knowing what it says.

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Markman received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.86, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of 0.05 that justices received in Michigan. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[12]

See also

External links