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Ralph K. Wiver Jr., one of the greatest conservative judicial minds, dies at 85

Ralph Karl Winter Jr. was born July 30, 1935 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father worked in insurance and her mother, Muriel (Pullin) Winter, was a housewife.

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

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

A law school graduate in 1960, Judge Winter held a series of prestigious internships, first for Judge Caleb M. Wright of the U.S. District Court in Delaware, then for Thurgood Marshall, then a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, covering New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

Although Justice Winter, a libertarian-leaning conservative, differs philosophically from Marshall, the two have become close friends. When Justice Winter joined the Second Circuit himself in 1982, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Marshall, then a Supreme Court justice, was sworn in. In 1993, Justice Winter delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Justice Marshall.

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

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