Raymond Kethledge’s family includes wife of almost 25 years, Jessica Kethledge, and two children named Ella and Ray. One oddity in his family biography: Judge Ray Kethledge used the last name of Ketchledge through at least 1993, and his father is Raymond A. Ketchledge. He’s the grandson of an accomplished inventor.
Raymond Kethledge was widely reported to be among President Donald Trump’s final three choices to replace Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. The other two choices are widely said to be federal Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. With some conservatives dividing over Barrett and Kavanaugh, Kethledge could emerge as the compromise pick. Trump announced his selection on July 9, 2018. In the end, Trump chose Kavanaugh.
Kethledge’s growing public persona has increased scrutiny of all aspects of Raymond Kethledge’s biography, including his family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kethledge’s Wife Jessica Kethledge Used to Work for the Red Cross & Kethledge Changed the Spelling of His Last Name
Jessica and Ray Kethledge have known each other since their early teenage years. According to Politico, Kethledge “met his wife, Jessica, when they were only 13 years old.”
They will celebrate 25 years of marriage later in 2018, the site reports. Ancestry records show they were married on August 21, 1993 in Vermont. Raymond Kethledge is 51. The couple’s marriage certificate gives his last name as Ketchledge, not Kethledge, and Raymond also signed the name with a C on the form. It’s not clear why it changed. The name “variation” is mentioned in Ray Kethledge’s book. His father is thanked in the book as Raymond A. Ketchledge, not Kethledge, and online records consistently give the dad’s last name with a C.
“The variation in the spelling of Ray’s surname and his dad’s is a long story,” the book says. But it doesn’t explain the story. However, the now judge used the C spelling through the date he was married, at the least, as he signed the form that way.
Jessica and Ray were married by a man named Harold Makepeace who ran the Spiral Shop Gallery, according to their marriage certificate.
Online records show that Jessica Kethledge is also in her 50s. A Connecticut College newsletter from 1997 says, “Jessica Levinson Kethledge is living in Alexandria, VA, and working for American Red Cross National Headquarters in the Disaster Services Department. She was married to Ray Kethledge in Green River, VT, in Aug. ’93.”
Raymond Kethledge currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was appointed to the court in 2008 by President George W. Bush. He’s a graduate of the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School.
He’s also spent time in private practice, and as counsel for U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) and Ford Motor Company, according to Ballotpedia. He was a law clerk for federal judge Ralph Guy Jr., a Ronald Reagan appointee.
2. Kethledge’s Grandfather Was an Inventor
Ray Kethledge’s paternal grandfather, Raymond W. Ketchledge, was an inventor. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he “developed the first electronic switching system for telephones.” He held 60 patents and developed a WW2 torpedo known as the Mark 24 that was deployed against German U Boats, the obit reports.
According to an old issue of the Evening News from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Raymond Waibel Ketchledge was born to The Rev. and Mrs. Raymond A. Ketchledge, of Camp Hill. Judge Raymond Kethledge’s dad is also named Raymond A. Ketchledge. His mother’s name is Diane Ketchledge. Raymond A., the judge’s dad, was formerly president and chief operating officer of a Michigan company called Sandy Corp., which marketed “corporate training programs,” according to a 1988 announcement in The New York Times. Lori Strasius, the judge’s sister, is a Florida lawyer.
His obituary says that Raymond W. Ketchledge left behind seven sons, two daughters, two brothers, and 11 grandchildren. He died of cancer in Florida in 1987. Raymond W.’s father was a Presbyterian minister and the family was based in Johnstown, New York, according to a memorial tribute in the National Academies Press.
Raymond W.’s brother, Edwin Ketchledge, the judge’s great uncle, also has an interesting history. He was a “professor of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry” who “authored one of the essential Adirondack field guides, Forests & Trees of the Adirondack High Peaks Region,” according to The Adirondack Almanac. He died in 2010 at the age of 85. “He loved nothing better than to take solo trips into the back country to be alone with the natural world where he felt most at home,” read an obituary in the Watertown Daily Times.
Raymond W.’s other brother, Arthur Ketchledge, also worked in the engineering field. His 2017 obit says “the Ketchledge family spent their summers on Canada Lake in New York state, boating, fishing, and entertaining friends and family.”
3. Kethledge’s Daughter, Ella, Stars in School Plays & Is In Forensics
According to Politico, Raymond and Jessica Kethledge are the parents of two children. Ray, 20, is a junior in college, and Ella, 17, is a senior in high school.
His book says that Ray’s daughter Ella loves animals and reading and wanted him to write a book about Jane Goodall instead.
One of the things that appeals to some conservatives about Kethledge: He’s from the Midwest, and lives in Michigan. His daughter Ella appears to be living a life like many other youth in the Midwest. There are still videos online of her singing in middle school choral concerts; in one, she sings a song called, “I can hear bells.”
She was listed as getting an A in test results posted to Facebook. She had a Twitter page, but it’s been deleted (as has her father’s Facebook page.) She was in forensics. Ray Kethledge, the son, had an Instagram page, but it, too, has been scrubbed.
“My wife is Jessica Levinson Kethledge. Prior to our marriage, her name was Jessica Davi Levinson. She is home with our two children full-time,” Kethledge said during his confirmation hearing.
“Jessica Levinson Kethledge, husband, Ray, and new baby, Raymond, are ‘doing well and enjoying family life,'” the article reported.
4. Kethledge’s Wife & Children Were at His Confirmation Hearing
When Kethledge was nominated to the federal bench, his wife and two children accompanied him to the confirmation hearing. “Chairman, I’d like to introduce my wife, Jessica, my daughter, Ella, my son, Ray,” he said, according to a video of the moment.
He added that his father, Ray Ketchledge, his sister, Lori Strasius, and his mother, Diane Ketchledge, were also present. You can read the full transcript from that hearing here.
An obituary for Jessica’s grandmother says the family has roots in Massachusetts. Her grandmother was Anne Levinson (Whitman) Bornstein and she was 101 when she died.
5. Jessica Kethledge Told Her Husband He Was on ‘Trump’s List’ While She Was on the Treadmill
Raymond Kethledge recounted the moment he learned he was on Trump’s initial list of possibilities for U.S. Supreme Court back in 2016. “I didn’t know anything about it until it happened,” he said in an interview with Above the Law.
“I was up in my barn office, actually working on a chapter for this book. The landline phone rang. It was my wife, calling from the gym, where she was on a treadmill. She said, ‘I just saw you on TV! You’re on Trump’s list!'”
He added, “That was how I heard the news. It was distracting. I really had to get that chapter done in the short time I had up there. So I thanked my wife for letting me know, and went back to work. Fortunately my cellphone doesn’t work up there.”
The chapter and book he was referring to relate to Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude, a book he co-wrote on leadership.
One famous anecdote about Kethledge: His barn office in northern Michigan overlooking Lake Huron in a wooded area.
“I have no internet connection, the HVAC is a wood stove, and my workspace is a simple pine desk,” he told Above the Law, adding that he told one friend “that I get an extra 20 IQ points from being in that office.”