Supreme Court Nominations

Meet Judge Diane Wood, a ‘Philosophical Outlier’ on the 7th Circuit


The left-leaning Judge Diane Wood plays the role of “philosophical outlier” on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but she has maintained a friendly relationship off the bench with two of the court’s star conservatives, according to a newspaper profile of the potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Wood is considered one of three top possible nominees to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The New York Times profile describes her as “an antitrust expert with a flair for foreign language and an ear for playing the oboe” who has known Judges Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook since they were all law professors at the University of Chicago.

Posner officiated at Wood’s third wedding, the newspaper says, and Easterbrook runs into her at the symphony. While at the University of Chicago, Wood helped Easterbrook prepare for arguments in a Supreme Court case. She hired as babysitters the children of another colleague there, Antonin Scalia, the story says.

In some cases, Wood has found common ground with conservatives, the Times reports. Posner agreed with her that a statute barring so-called partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional; his objection was that there was no exception for the health of the mother. And Easterbrook changed his stance in a case involving a condo association that barred mezuzahs, agreeing with Wood and finding against the association.

Posner told the newspaper that Wood took his advice to pick her battles carefully on a bench where life is like a system of arranged marriage with no divorce. “I think she’s been very tactful in dealing with people,” he told the Times, “not giving up her views but trying to look for common ground.”

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