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Ruggero John Aldisert
Born (1919-11-10)November 10, 1919
Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Died December 28, 2014(2014-12-28) (aged 95)
Santa Barbara, California
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh (B.A.)
University of Pittsburgh School of Law (J.D.)

Ruggero John Aldisert (November 10, 1919 – December 28, 2014) was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


Born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, Aldisert received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1941. He served during World War II as a Major in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1947. He was also the National President of Italian Sons and Daughters of America from 1954 to 1968. He entered private law practice in Pittsburgh in 1947 and achieved national prominence from 1951 to 1956 as co-defense counsel to Aldo Icardi in The Holohan Murder Case. He became a judge on the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in 1962 and was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1968. He became Chief Judge from 1984 to 1986, assuming senior status in 1986.

Aldisert was an adjunct professor at University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He wrote a memoir and several books on jurisprudence and law practice, including The Judicial Process (West 2nd. ed. 1996), Logic for Lawyers: A Guide to Clear Legal Thinking (NITA 3rd ed. 1997), Winning on Appeal (NITA 2nd ed. 2003), Opinion Writing (West 2nd. ed. 2009) and A Judge's Advice: 50 Years on the Bench (CAP Press 2011).

Aldisert wrote a dissenting opinion in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, 390 F.3d 219 (2004), a high-profile case challenging the Solomon Amendment, a federal law that denies federal funding to colleges and universities that prohibit on-campus recruiting by the military. The majority opinion enjoined enforcement of the law on First Amendment grounds. Aldisert's dissenting view was ultimately vindicated by the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari in the case and unanimously reversed the Third Circuit and upheld the validity of the Solomon Amendment.

In 2005 Aldisert became the first recipient of the "Distinguished Appellate Jurist Award", bestowed by the American Bar Association's Council of Appellate Lawyers. In 2008 Aldisert received the Legal Writing Institute's "Golden Pen Award." Aldisert stopped hearing cases in August 2014 after 46 years on the bench. He died in December 2014.[1][2]



  • Ruggero John Aldisert at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Austin Staley
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Succeeded by
Anthony Scirica
Preceded by
Collins Seitz
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Succeeded by
John Gibbons

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