Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Judges and Presidential Politics

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | July 14, 2016

Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pa. Justice Michael A. Musmanno  campaigned for John F. Kennedy.        Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



No. 1,269

Summary: Justice Ginsburg’s comments about Trump are unusual but not unique.

About a year ago, Judge Richard Kopf discontinued his blog “Hercules and the Umpire” after running a post stating that Ted Cruz was not qualified to be President.  Although Kopf denied that there was a relationship between the post and the curtailment of the blog, he admitted that the public statement was a mistake.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s remarks on the presidential race brought a flood of criticism, but will probably not bring any lasting consequences.  Political comments on candidates are not without precedent and political participation by judges was once common.  Justice Michael Musmanno  actively campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960, even making stump speeches.  He communicated with campaign manager Robert F. Kennedy, suggesting that the campaign hold a Columbus Day event. In appreciation for these efforts, Kennedy interviewed Musmanno as a potential Supreme Court nominee and invited him to a Columbus Day ceremony in the Rose Garden.  Musmanno ran for the Senate (he said that Kennedy suggested it) while still a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Of course, rules have changed and undoubtedly for the better.




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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