Judge Maryanne Trump Barry presides on the 4th federal circuit Court of Appeals, and certainly has all the traditional requirements for appointment to the SCOTUS, except perhaps one--she's 79 years old, which almost certainly precludes her from consideration. But it begs the question anyway, has a President ever nominated a sibling or a spouse to the federal courts? It would seem to me that such a move would violate the spirit of the separation of powers.

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    such a move would violate the spirit of the separation of powers. I do not think that it would be much worse than chosing a candidate or another principally due to his/er political alignment, even if there is no family relationship. Just rather less elegant.
    – SJuan76
    Jan 27, 2017 at 15:29
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    Separation of powers would be preserved through checks and balances: the nomination would still be subject to senate approval. Should the nomination be approved, the new justice would still be subject to impeachment in the case of abuse of office, as would the president.
    – phoog
    Jan 27, 2017 at 16:19
  • @SJuan76 Family ties are of much greater concern than shared political alignment. There would be the question of undue influence, and there would be far more cases where possible conflicts of interest would arise.
    – phoog
    Jan 27, 2017 at 16:22
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    @phoog - based on anecdotal example of sibling pairs I'm familiar with, chances that a sibling will be following the directions of another sibling are FAR FAR less than that of a similar-ideology supporter, on any issues, never mind political ones.
    – user4012
    Jan 28, 2017 at 0:25
  • @user4012 Yes. If I was president and appointed my brother to the Supreme Court, my brother disagrees with me about many political, legal, and social issues. It is not at all clear that he would be my puppet. On the other hand, almost any court appointee is going to have opinions about the issues of the day. Presidents of both parties have routinely picked nominees that they thought would side with them on big issues. (They've often been disappointed, but that's another issue.)
    – Jay
    May 16, 2021 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


Well, all presidents have been men, until the 1980s all justices were men, and same sex marriage has only been available since the 1990s. So until the 1980s, no one could have nominated a spouse. No justices are openly in a same sex relationship, so we can put aside any male spouses being nominated.

There is only one female justice who is not currently on the court: Sandra Day O'Connor. Her husband was not a president. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama nominated all the current female justices, none of whom are their wives. Harriet Miers is the only female nominee who failed to be appointed, and she was not married to George W. Bush.

The analysis of siblings would be more complicated, as it would have been possible for any president to have appointed a sibling. However, no justice was nominated by a president with the same last name (either successfully or not). So probably not. Still barely possible if they had different last names for some reason.

List of Justices on Wikipedia.

List of failed nominations.

  • I was actually thinking the most likely was a nomination that failed.
    – user9790
    Jan 27, 2017 at 22:34
  • I was going to find an example of a US president who had no brothers or sisters and say, "Well, so-and-so could not have nominated a sibling because he didn't have any." But on checking, it appears that we have never had a president who was an only child. One could quibble that George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama had no full siblings, but they still had half-siblings. It makes me wonder if this fact is significant in some way.
    – Jay
    May 16, 2021 at 3:39

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