Donald Trump says that if he becomes president, he would love to nominate his older sister — a federal circuit court judge — to the U.S. Supreme Court but that she probably would not be interested in the position.
"I would love to, but I think she would be the one to say, 'No way, no way,'" Trump said in an interview on Fox News on Saturday night. "She's very happy where she is, I can tell you that."
Maryanne Trump Barry, the oldest of the five Trump children, is senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. She attended law school later in life, after her son started sixth grade, and has worked as a prosecutor and federal judge for four decades. Barry has achieved "a measure of celebrity independent of her brother" and many of her colleagues don't know that she's part of the famous New York family, the New York Times wrote in a profile of Barry in August.
Ronald Reagan first appointed Barry as a federal trial court judge, and Bill Clinton promoted her to the circuit court in June 1999. Trump has written that he closely followed his sister's confirmation hearings and was angered when a Senate Judiciary Committee member — then-Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) — grilled Barry on her views on abortion.
“Maybe if my sister had spoken more slowly he would have understood her," Trump wrote in one of his books, "The America We Deserve," describing Smith as "the dumbest guy in the U.S. Senate."
In July 2000, Barry was one of three judges on a panel that ruled that New Jersey's ban on late-term abortions was "unconstitutionally vague" and "unduly burdened a woman's constitutional right to obtain an abortion," affirming a decision by a lower court. Barry wrote the majority opinion on behalf of the panel, which included Samuel A. Alito, now a Supreme Court judge.
Barry wrote in the opinion that the New Jersey law — passed by the state legislature over a veto from the governor — was so "vague and ambiguous" that its reach was unconstitutional and could not be corrected "without a total rewrite." She noted that the Supreme Court had struck down similar bans on what anti-abortion activists often call "partial-birth abortions." Barry wrote that under the New Jersey law, or even an altered version of it, "physicians would drastically limit their abortions practices to avoid the reach of the Act and a woman's constitutional right to obtain an abortion would be impermissibly chilled."
Trump entertained the idea of making his sister a Supreme Court judge during an interview with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of Bloomberg Politics in late August.
"I think she'd be phenomenal," Trump said. "I think she'd be one of the best. But frankly, we'd have to rule that out."
The National Review, a conservative magazine, took those comments and posted an article on Aug. 27 headlined: "Trump praises his sister, a pro-abortion extremist judge." That same day, Jeb Bush's campaign manager, Danny Diaz, tweeted a link to the article with this message: "Paging all pro-lifers. @DonaldTrump Endorses "Sister, A Pro-Abortion Extremist Judge" For SCOTUS."
Trump continued to praise his sister during a Saturday night interview with Jeanine Pirro, a former district attorney turned legal commentator, on Fox News that sounded more like two old friends running into each other than a traditional interview. ("My family has great admiration and respect for you," Trump gushed at one point after Pirro praised Trump for raising such "incredible" children.)
Pirro asked Trump twice whether he would make his sister "a supreme" if he were elected president. Trump made clear that Barry wasn't interested.
"She loves what she's doing," Trump said. "She's highly respected. She's considered one of the really brilliant people, as you know, on the federal court. She's a big federal judge at a very high level, and she's considered brilliant by everybody."