This is the third post in a series defending the propriety of writing about Supreme Court clerks. The first two installments are available here and here. The rest of this post, making the third point in our multi-part argument, appears after the jump.
3. Newsflash, members of the Elect: People talk about you, precisely because you’re Supreme Court clerks, regardless of what is written here or on any other website.
You are a Supreme Court clerk: a celebrity within the upper echelons of the legal profession, someone who will be affecting the development of judicial opinions governing 300 million people. Your law school classmates, people from other law schools in the hunt for SCOTUS clerkships, and other total strangers gossip incessantly about you — what your credentials are, what you’re like as a person, etc. Members of Congress, the mainstream media, and special interest groups want to know about your racial and ethnic background, your gender, and your path to One First Street.
That’s just the way it is. And these people would STILL be talking about you, even if this website never existed. There’s a reason why (1) websites discussing SCOTUS clerks are so popular (e.g., ATL, UTR), and (2) why posts at these blogs about SCOTUS clerks tend to be the most frequently visited, emailed around to people, etc.
If anything, you should be grateful for internet discussion about you. Websites like this one bring to the surface, and put it into print, what people are saying and thinking about you. And it’s good for you to know that.
You can try and trick yourself into believing that nobody knows who you are or talks about you behind your back, despite your high station — and despite the fact that the names, law schools, and prior clerkships of SCOTUS clerks are a matter of public record. That can be comforting. We take the head-in-the-sand approach sometimes too; we hold off on reading blog or message-board posts that savage or make fun of us.
But it’s futile — as well as counterproductive. It’s better to know what people are saying about you, so you can at least respond or refute it, than to live in ignorance.
Now maybe some of you think it’s wrong that people talk so much about Supreme Court clerks. Well, some people think it’s wrong that In Touch has a bigger U.S. circulation than The Economist. Fine; you”re entitled to that opinion. But a world obsessed with celebrity — whether of the legal, financial, media, Hollywood, or political worlds — is the world we happen to live in.
Get used to it. We don’t make the rules; we just play by them.
(Yes, we realize that there’s a feedback phenomenon going on here. Perhaps celebrity-obsessed publications and blogs increase as well as satiate the demand for celebrity gossip. But that demand wasn’t created in the first instance by such magazines and websites. Throughout the history of civilization, human beings have always been obsessed about other human beings — especially those they view as being of a higher order, like royalty.)
Earlier: Supreme Court Clerks Are Fair Game: Part 1
Supreme Court Clerks Are Fair Game: Part 2