Judge Michael B. Brennan, Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Judge Michael B. Brennan 

Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Michael Brian Brennan was born in 1963 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned an undergraduate degree in government and philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and received his Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law. He clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and also at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He entered private practice. 

He was appointed by the Wisconsin governor to be a judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, serving nine years, for a period serving as presiding judge of the civil division of that court. He returned to private practice as a trial lawyer.  

President Donald Trump appointed Brennan to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. His nomination was returned without action having been taken when the Congressional term ended. President Trump nominated him again, and he was confirmed after the invocation of cloture in the Senate. He received his judicial commission in May 2018. 

In the News…

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a lower court in favor of a Roman Catholic high school in Indianapolis. The ruling found that the “ministerial exception” covered the school’s decision not to renew a contract for a long-term employee after she entered into a same-sex marriage. 

“We affirm the district court’s decision that Starkey was a minister under the First Amendment’s ministerial exception, as well as its ruling that the exception bars Starkey’s three federal Title VII claims for discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment,” said Judge Michael B. Brennan in the 37-page opinion. 

“[The former employee] was a minister because she was entrusted with communicating the Catholic faith to the school’s students and guiding the school’s religious mission,” the appeals court wrote. “The ministerial exception bars all her claims, federal and state. This opinion therefore does not reach the parties’ Title VII, RFRA, or other constitutional arguments. We AFFIRM the district court.” 

The ministerial exception allows churches and related organizations the right to determine which of their employees are “ministers” of the faith and thus are exempt from federal interference.  

Contact this Leader…

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

The Honorable Michael B. Brennan 
Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals 
U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building
517 E. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202


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