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McCaffery takes seat on Supreme Court

Seamus McCaffery swears in Dan McCaffery as daughters Mairead and Madison look on.
From left: Justices Dan McCaffery, Sallie Mundy, Christine Donohue, Debra Todd, Kevin Dougherty and Kevin Brobson.
Rita and Seamus McCaffery, parents of the new justice.

Torresdale’s Dan McCaffery last week was installed as a justice of the state Supreme Court during a ceremony at the Logan Hotel, on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

McCaffery, 59, took the oath of office administered by his brother, retired Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery. His daughters, Mairead and Madison, put the robe on their father.

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The new justice is the youngest of seven children of the late Seamus and Rita McCaffery, immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The wedding photo of his parents was prominently displayed at the ceremony.

McCaffery attended Resurrection of Our Lord and Father Judge High School (class of 1982), which he described as the “finest Catholic high school in America.”

McCaffery enlisted in the United States Army, serving with the First Cavalry Division. He earned an undergraduate degree in 1988 and law degree in 1991, both from Temple, and worked as an assistant district attorney for six years and in private practice for 16 years.

Politically, he ran for district attorney in 2009 and made short-lived bids for Congress in 2004 and attorney general in 2012. He was elected to Common Pleas Court in 2013, Superior Court in 2019 and Supreme Court in November.

McCaffery’s victory gives Democrats a 5-2 advantage on the court.

In attendance at his swearing-in were Chief Justice Debra Todd and Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Sallie Mundy and Kevin Brobson. Justice David Wecht was lecturing in Israel.

Democratic City Committee chairman Bob Brady was master of ceremonies. Brady told Todd that she now has “a set of Irish twins” in McCaffery and Dougherty, who lives in Pine Valley.

The invocation and benediction were given by the Rev. Joseph Campellone, president emeritus of Father Judge, who called for a moment of silence for Seamus and Rita McCaffery and described the new justice as “a good Catholic.”

Remarks were delivered by Gov. Josh Shapiro; attorneys Joe Messa, Bob Nemeroff and Tom Duffy, the chairman of McCaffery’s campaign; Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council; and Neil Mara, chief deputy state attorney general.

Among those on hand were state Sens. Jim Dillon and Tina Tartaglione, city elections commissioner Lisa Deeley and building trades business representative Brian Eddis.

Last year, McCaffery defeated Deborah Kunselman in the Democratic primary and Republican Carolyn Carluccio in the general election. He fills the seat of the late Justice Max Baer.

Duffy, the campaign chair, attributed the victory to McCaffery’s hard work visiting all parts of the state and the support of trial lawyers, unions, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and LGBT and diversity, equity and inclusion groups.

Mara, the deputy attorney general, thanked McCaffery for befriending him when he moved from Connecticut to Philadelphia to work as an assistant district attorney. Mara added that McCaffery has been addressed as “The Honorable” since his 2013 election to Common Pleas Court.

“You were, obviously, honorable long before then,” he said.

McCaffery likened his judicial philosophy to that of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a philosophy that includes freedom, justice and equality.

“Those three qualities will be ringing in my ears, and I owe it to my parents,” he said. ••

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