Judge Robert Cleland, Eastern Michigan U.S. District Court

Judge Robert Cleland

Eastern Michigan U.S. District Court

Robert Hardy Cleland was born in April 1947 in St. Claire, Michigan. He earned an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He entered private practice.

He was a county assistant prosecuting attorney for Port Huron, Michigan for eight years, serving as Chief Assistant for three of those years. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Saint Clair County and twice re-elected, serving 20 years.

He was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the eastern District of Michigan, confirmed by the Senate, and received his commission in June 1990. He took senior status in February 2013.

In the News…

Federal Judge Robert Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan District Court found that a Michigan school discriminated against a Christian group on campus that requires its leaders to be Christians.

The judge found that Wayne State University, a state school in Detroit, treated the campus chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship unconstitutionally when it suspended the group in 2017 for mandating that its leaders must profess faith in Christ.

The university had justified its action as an enforcement of its nondiscrimination policy. But Judge Cleland wrote that it had violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause, as well as InterVarsity’s “rights to internal management, free speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and free exercise.”

In its lawsuit, InterVarsity alleged that its loss of status led to a greater loss of benefits afforded to other student organizations. It also pointed out that other student faith organizations, including Muslim and Coptic Christian groups, were not required to change their rules to allow nonmembers of their faiths into leadership.

Judge Cleland agreed, writing that school administrators “explicitly crafted their nondiscrimination policy to limit application to certain groups and categories while providing exceptions for others.”

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Judge Cleland today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Judge Robert Cleland
Eastern Michigan U.S. District Court
Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
526 Water Street
Port Huron, MI 48060


Back to top