Open main menu

John Kenneth Bush (born August 24, 1964) is an American attorney and United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.[1][2] Bush graduated from Harvard Law School and practiced in Washington, D.C. and Louisville, Kentucky, where he served as president of the local branch of the Federalist Society. In 2017, he was nominated to a seat on the Sixth Circuit by President Donald Trump. During his confirmation hearings, it came to light that Bush had authored pseudonymous blog posts in which he disparaged gay rights, compared abortion to slavery, and linked to articles on right-wing conspiracy theory websites.[2][3][4] He was confirmed by the Senate on a party-line vote of 51–47 on July 20, 2017.[5]

John K. Bush
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Assumed office
July 21, 2017
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byDanny Julian Boggs
Personal details
John Kenneth Bush

(1964-08-24) August 24, 1964 (age 54)
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
EducationVanderbilt University (BA)
Harvard Law School (JD)


Education and careerEdit

Bush received his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in 1986 from Vanderbilt University, where he was phi beta kappa. He received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, in 1989 from Harvard Law School, where he was Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and an Ames Moot Court Finalist.[6][7] After graduating from law school, Bush served as a law clerk to Judge J. Smith Henley of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He practiced law at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., before taking a job at Bingham Greenebaum Doll in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a partner at the firm and co-chair of the firm's litigation department before becoming a judge. Bush specialized in complex litigation, including antitrust, securities, financial institutions, insurance, intellectual property, and product liability disputes.[8][9][10] Bush is chairman of the Louisville chapter of the Federalist Society.[11][12][13]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Nomination and confirmationEdit

On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Bush to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated by Judge Danny Julian Boggs, who took senior status on February 28, 2017.[8][9][14] A hearing on his nomination before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary was held on June 14, 2017.[15] On a questionnaire submitted to the committee, Bush acknowledged that between 2007 and 2016, he had pseudonymously authored approximately 400 blog posts on Elephants in the Bluegrass, a blog founded by his wife, Bridget.[3] His blog posts espoused expressed opposition to gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, public financing of political campaigns, and the idea of trying terrorists in civilian courts.[16][4] Bush also compared abortion to slavery, and citing media reports containing "birther" falsehoods about Barack Obama's citizenship.[4][2][17][18] When questioned about his blogging during his judicial nomination process, Bush said that "my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated" and that "blogging is a political activity. It is not appropriate to bring politics to the bench."[19][12][13] On July 19, 2017, the Senate voted in favor of cloture by a vote of 51–48, and on the following day voted 51–47 to confirm him.[20] He received his judicial commission on July 21, 2017.


Bush authored the opinion in EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Andrew Beshear,[21] in which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Kentucky law compelling physicians to show and describe a fetal ultrasound to patients before performing an abortion.[22] The law, part of a years-long effort to restrict abortion access in Kentucky,[23] had previously been deemed unconstitutional by a lower court.[22] Bush wrote that the law "provides truthful, non-misleading, and relevant information aimed at informing a patient about her decision to abort unborn life".[21]


Bush authored the court’s opinion in McDonald v. UAW-GM Center for Human Resources[24] finding that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not require the defendant to extend the employee’s lunch break for her to exercise. The plaintiff requested an extended lunch break for doctor-required exercise. The employer was in the decision-making process regarding the accommodation when the employee was suspended for insubordination and use of profanity toward her superior. During the suspension, the plaintiff voluntarily quit her job. The court found that the doctor did not require that the employee workout during her lunch break, that it was only the employee’s preference. Furthermore, the employer was engaged in an interactive process regarding the requested accommodation when the employee quit voluntarily, therefore no ADA violation was found.[25][26]

Separation of powersEdit

Bush joined the court’s opinion in Hagy v. Demers & Adams, LLC[27] involving a letter sent from an attorney discharging the plaintiffs' debts following a mortgage foreclosure. The letter failed to include language disclosing that it came from a debt collector as required under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act (FDCPA). Despite the fact that no injury or harm came from the failure to disclose, nor was the letter unfair, deceptive, or harassing as the FDCPA aims to prevent, the district court awarded $1,000 in statutory penalties and over $74,000 in attorneys fees to the plaintiffs. The circuit court reversed, finding that the plaintiffs had no standing in court because no harm had occurred outside of a bare procedural violation. Citing the Supreme Court in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the circuit court found that Congress had overstepped it’s congressional authority by creating injuries that satisfy Article III standing requirements where no actual harm had occurred.  The court found that Congress may not “simply enact an injury into existence, using its lawmaking power to transform something that is not remotely harmful into something that is.”[28][29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Attorney John K Bush - Lawyer in Louisville KY".
  2. ^ a b c Totenberg, Nina (July 20, 2017). "Conservative Political Blogger Confirmed For Seat On Federal Appeals Court". NPR.
  3. ^ a b Wolfson, Andrew (May 24, 2017). "Using pen name, judicial nominee wrote slavery and abortion are our 'greatest tragedies'". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Wolfson, Andrew (June 28, 2017). "Trump's judicial nominee from Louisville ducks questions about his controversial blog posts". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Wolfson, Andrew (July 20, 2017). "Louisville attorney John Bush confirmed 51-47 for seat on federal court of appeals". USA Today.
  6. ^ Severino, Carrie (May 7, 2017). "Bench Memos: Who is John K. Bush?". National Review. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "Bridget Maloney Engaged to John Bush". The New York Times. April 8, 1990. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Liptak, Adam (May 7, 2017). "Trump to Announce Slate of Conservative Federal Court Nominees" – via
  9. ^ a b "President Donald J. Trump Announces Judicial Candidate Nominations". White House, Office of Press Secretary. May 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "John Kenneth Bush Lawyer Profile on".
  11. ^ Wolfson, Andrew (May 9, 2017). "President Trump taps Louisville conservative John K. Bush for court". Louisville Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  12. ^ a b U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees: John Kenneth Bush" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2018. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (June 21, 2017). "Questions from Senator Feinstein" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Nine Nominations Sent to the Senate Today". The White House. May 8, 2017. Archived from the original on May 15, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary" Nominations: June 14, 2017".
  16. ^ Tillman, Zoe (May 19, 2017). "One Of Trump's Judicial Nominees Blogged Under A Pen Name That Ted Cruz Was A "Sore Loser"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  17. ^ Min Kim, Seung (November 17, 2017). "Trump's judge picks: 'Not qualified,' prolific bloggers". Politico. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  18. ^ "Senate Confirms Judge Who Equated Abortion With Slavery". Fortune. Associated Press. July 20, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  19. ^ "Senators Grill Trump Judicial Nominees On Provocative Blog Posts".
  20. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress - 1st Session".
  21. ^ a b "EMW Women's Surgical Center P.S.C. v. Beshear, No. 17-6183 (6th Cir. 2019)". Justia Law. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Weixel, Nathaniel (April 4, 2019). "Appeals court upholds Kentucky ultrasound abortion law". The Hill.
  23. ^ Mervosh, Sarah (March 16, 2019). "Judge Blocks Kentucky Fetal Heartbeat Law That Bans Abortion After 6 Weeks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  25. ^ "Sixth Circuit holds that employer was not required to extend lunch breaks for exercise as reasonable accommodation". Employer Law Report. August 21, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  26. ^ "Vague Doctor's Note Did Not Prove the Need for Extra Lunchtime". SHRM. September 18, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  27. ^ "Hagy v. Demers & Adams, No. 17-3696 (6th Cir. 2018)". Justia Law. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  28. ^ "Dismissing FDCPA Lawsuit, Sixth Circuit Calls Out Congress for Creating Statutory Remedies Where No Harm Has Occurred". The National Law Review. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "Applying Spokeo, 6th Circuit Dismisses FDCPA Suit". JD Supra. Retrieved May 1, 2019.

External linksEdit