Ralph K. Winter Jr., a Top Conservative Judicial Mind, Dies at 85

Ralph Karl Winter Jr. was born on July 30, 1935, in Waterbury, Conn. His father worked in insurance, and his mother, Muriel (Pullin) Wint...


Ralph Karl Winter Jr. was born on July 30, 1935, in Waterbury, Conn. His father worked in insurance, and his mother, Muriel (Pullin) Winter, was a homemaker.

He attended the nearby Taft School, a boarding school, as a day student, then went to Yale, just 20 miles away, graduating in 1957. He enrolled immediately in Yale Law School, where he met his future wife, Kathryn Higgins, a New Haven native who worked in the school’s library. She died in 2012.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a granddaughter.

After graduating from law school in 1960, Judge Winter held a series of prestigious clerkships, first for Judge Caleb M. Wright of the U.S. District Court for Delaware and then for Thurgood Marshall, at the time a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, covering New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

Although Judge Winter, a libertarian-leaning conservative, differed philosophically from Marshall, the two became close friends. When Judge Winter joined the Second Circuit himself in 1982, nominated by President Ronald Reagan, Marshall, by then a Supreme Court justice, administered the oath of office. In 1993, Judge Winter gave a eulogy at Justice Marshall’s funeral.

Judge Winter’s judicial chambers became a reliable pipeline to Supreme Court clerkships, academic posts and high-level government jobs. Among his best-known clerks were Steven G. Calabresi, a founder of the Federalist Society; Paul G. Mahoney, a former dean of the University of Virginia School of Law; Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host; and George T. Conway III, the Republican lawyer and husband of the former Trump White House aide Kellyanne Conway.

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Newsrust: Ralph K. Winter Jr., a Top Conservative Judicial Mind, Dies at 85
Ralph K. Winter Jr., a Top Conservative Judicial Mind, Dies at 85
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