BusinessWeek Profiles Potential SCOTUS Nominee Diane Wood

Oboe-Playing Judicial Artist Diane Wood Eyed for High Court
Andrew M. Harris and John McCormick
BusinessWeek
April 16, 2010

Diane Wood and her colleagues on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago have philosophical differences. That didn’t stop Judge Richard Posner, the court’s most outspoken conservative, from officiating her wedding when she married for the third time in 2006.

Wood has demonstrated a willingness to challenge her fellow jurists without offending, say lawyers and clerks who have observed her in court. Those attributes may be an asset as President Barack Obama considers her to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on an often-divided U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1995, Wood persuaded Posner and other jurists to rethink the case of an Indiana inmate fighting his death sentence when she asked whether anyone properly warned him about repeated federal challenges. “Silence can mislead,” Posner later wrote, reversing an earlier opinion joined by fellow judge Frank Easterbrook.

“That was an example of the art of judging,” said Tom Brown, a former clerk for Wood who is a San Francisco lawyer. “She asked the question in a way not to embarrass Judge Easterbrook.”

While Wood’s opinions supported abortion rights and separation of church and state, her rulings on business matters aren’t easy to pigeonhole.