3rd Circuit, Divorce Train Wrecks, Family Law, Federal Judges, Marjorie Rendell, Politics

Separation of Powers: Governor Rendell and Judge Rendell Split

Judge Marjorie Rendell (former First Lady of Pennsylvania).

There’s lots of law-related news coming out of Philadelphia right now.

The lead story on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website today is about the latest Villanova Law scandal, regarding falsified admissions data being submitted to the ABA. (The article contains a shout-out to ATL, which we appreciate.)

The trial of Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student accused of shooting another young man, is getting underway in Philly this week. Opening arguments are set for this morning. (If you have any tips on the Ung story, please contact us.)

And then there’s the news that has all tongues wagging in the City of Brotherly Love: the split of a big-time Pennsylvania power couple (and a pair of Villanova Law grads, by the way).

Former Governor Edward Rendell, who left the governor’s mansion just last month, and Judge Marjorie Rendell, a prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, are going their separate ways. They announced their separation, after 40 years of marriage, in an email sent to friends….

Governor Ed Rendell and Judge Marjorie Rendell, in happier times: a 2007 appearance on the Food Network.


Here’s the story, from the Philadelphia Daily News:

Gov. Rendell and his wife, U.S. Appellate Judge Marjorie “Midge” Rendell, announced in an e-mail to friends today that they will be “living separately” now that they have left the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg. But don’t let that prevent anyone from sending them invitations to the same party, the parting couple advised. The split after four decades of marriage is “amicable” and they won’t find it awkward or uncomfortable to socialize together.

“Dear friends, we wanted to let you know that we have decided to embark upon this next phase of our lives by living separately,” the e-mail said. “This has been a difficult decision, but we both believe it is the right thing to do. Our parting is amicable, and we will remain friends and continue to be active in our community, sometimes together, sometimes separately.”

The couple asks for their friends to “respect our privacy, and our decision, and wish us well.” It is signed “Ed and Midge,” with this postscript: “Please do not hesitate to include both of us in social occasions as we will not find it awkward or uncomfortable.”

Perhaps that’s because, as has been widely rumored, they’ve been living separate lives for years now. As governor, Ed Rendell was based in Harrisburg; as a Third Circuit judge, Midge Rendell spent most of her time in Philly.

While he was governor, it made sense to keep up appearances. Judge Rendell played the role of First Lady well: she issued recipes (as well as judicial opinions), sang with Bon Jovi at her husband’s inauguration, and oversaw the cooking for his inaugural ball. But now that he’s out of office, they can let the facade fall.

Midge Rendell, 64, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She and Rendell, 67, married in 1971, have one son, Jesse, who practices law in Philadelphia.

Jesse Rendell now practices corporate and entertainment law at Cozen O’Connor. He’s a graduate of Temple Law — maybe he knew Gerald Ung from law school?

What might have caused the Rendells’ split?

[Governor Ed] Rendell has long been the subject of speculation involving younger women, typically leggy blonds. Rendell most recently turned heads last May when he arrived at a typical Election Day lunch at the Famous 4th Street Deli with Dr. Kirstin Snow, a state employee and former Miss Pennsylvania….

A PhillyClout item about the pair lingering over lunch after other pols had departed prompted Philadelphia Magazine in July to explore rumors of an affair. That story did little beyond giving voice to the speculation and then allowing Rendell and Snow to deny the rumor. The story ran with a portrait of a grinning Rendell seated as Snow stood smiling and standing behind him, resting her arms on his shoulders.

Seems like a strange pose for a supposedly Platonic relationship. And Kirstin Snow isn’t the first lovely lady to be linked with Governor Rendell. The Philly Daily News piece mentions several others, including lobbyist Holly Kinser and television anchor turned lobbyist Leslie McCombs.

An ATL tipster in Philadelphia had this to say about Governor Rendell:

Oh, he has gotten away with TONS of stuff [over the years]. It’s never really been a huge secret, either — at least not in Philly. Around here people are less surprised [the split] happened than they are surprised it took this long.

Fair enough. But Governor Rendell did have his political career to think about; he only left the governorship last month. (Of course, Judge Rendell has fewer worries, thanks to life tenure for federal judges.)

One can understand why Governor Rendell might not have wanted to give up Judge Rendell while he was governor. She was a powerful political asset for him, and she has been for years. Well before he was governor, Midge Rendell would bake cookies for his political strategy meetings. During his governorship, she performed the role of First Lady flawlessly.

And, in fairness to the blond-haired, blue-eyed Judge Rendell, she’s a hottie in her own right. Recall that was was nominated as a Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary by Underneath Their Robes:

Judge Rendell is a “classy blonde” who “looks great,” with “a wardrobe to die for.” [A] celebrity profile of Judge Rendell in the Philadelphia Inquirer speaks admiringly of her “wholesome good looks” (which are unfortunately marred during oral argument by her tendency to “scrunch[] up her face in concentration”). In terms of personality, however, Judge Rendell can be “quite prickly.” As the Inquirer profile notes, she “has a bit of a temper” and “can be difficult to work with,” due to her “high need for perfection.” (Did someone say the words “Judicial Diva”? If the Manolo fits, wear it!)

That’s just an excerpt. You can read the full write-up — which opines on Midge Rendell’s recipes, as well as her list of “First Lady’s Favorites” (favorite flower: daisy) — over here.

We’re sad to hear of the Rendells’ split. Even though power couples can give rise to problems — e.g., Bill and Hillary Clinton; Clarence and Ginni Thomas — they are just so darn delicious.

We wish the Rendells the best as they embark upon this new stage of their lives.

P.S. Are we seeing a trend of divorces or separations among high-profile couples who have been married for years? See also Al and Tipper Gore, and John and Elizabeth Edwards (before her passing).

Ex-Gov. Rendell Splits With Wife After 40 Years Of Marriage [Philadelphia Daily News]
Too Sexy For Their Robes: The Nominees for Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary! [Underneath Their Robes]
Villanova Law says its pre-2010 admissions data was inflated [Philadelphia Inquirer]
DiDonato Faring Well After Surviving Shooting, 11 Surgeries [Lacrosse News]

Earlier: Advice for Clerkship Seekers: Bring Duck and Apple Wontons to Your Interview With Judge Rendell
Has a Federal Judge Ever Appeared on the Food Network?
Judge Rendell: She Gives Love a Bad Name

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