Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51, is one of President Donald Trump’s finalists to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
With a law degree from the University of Michigan, Kethledge would be the only Justice on the court without Ivy League credentials, despite Trump’s seeming obsession with educational pedigree.
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A former Kennedy clerk and Senate aide to Republican Spencer Abraham, Kethledge has served on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2008. There he has made a name for himself in conservative circles. He was hailed by the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board for a 2014 opinion slamming the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for opposing the use of credit checks in hiring, which the EEOC alleged was used to disfavor African-American applicants.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt recently endorsed Kethledge for the seat in the Washington Post, writing: “Kethledge has been faithful for more than a decade to the originalist approach. White House staffers will have read every word of Kethledge’s many writings, and they will conclude: Gorsuch 2.0.”
Like Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kethledge has been a critic of the Chevron doctrine that gives deference to executive agencies in their interpretations of statues. Unlike Gorsuch, though, and perhaps to his advantage, Kethledge is not a regular on the D.C. scene.
“Unlike many people, he’s not a D.C. insider,” Christopher Yoo, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor who clerked with Kethledge told POLITICO recently. “He doesn’t belong to the kind of circles of power that other former clerks are often drawn to. What’s quite telling is his love of Michigan, his love of outdoors. … One of the highest compliments he can give about a person is they aren’t afraid to drink beer straight out of the bottle.”
Kethledge and his wife, Jessica, met when they were 13 years old. The couple has two children. Kethledge was born in New Jersey and has lived in Michigan since he was in high school.
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