Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Judge Maryanne Trump Barry and Judge Hardiman

It’s been reported that President Trump’s sister, Third Circuit judge Maryanne Trump Barry, “is high on” her colleague Thomas Hardiman, who is rumored to be one of the leading contenders for the pending Supreme Court vacancy.

Barry was appointed to the district court by Ronald Reagan but was elevated to the Third Circuit by Bill Clinton. Because she does not have a reputation as a conservative judge, I gather that some folks unfamiliar with Hardiman are concerned that her fondness for him ought to be a warning sign, a sort of adverse indicator.

Such a concern is unfounded. Barry, I’ll point out, testified strongly in favor of Justice Alito at his confirmation hearing (see pp. 658-659 of hearing transcript), and she did so notwithstanding their various disagreements over the years, including in a partial-birth abortion case. This shows, I think, that Barry, like many other judges, appreciates colleagues who are very smart and capable, even if they do not share her own judicial approach.

More generally, I would hope that conservatives are not alarmed by the fact that excellent conservative judges have earned respect from folks with different judicial philosophies. If you are alarmed, I suppose that you also would have been suspicious of this fellow named Antonin Scalia, whom President Carter’s liberal White House counsel, Lloyd Cutler, testified in favor of at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1986.


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