SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks

Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Dukies Do Well; Alito Is Done

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGSupreme Court clerk hiring is once again in the news. This subject, usually of interest just to hard-core legal nerds, migrated over to the mainstream media in Jeffrey Toobin’s recent New Yorker profile of Justice John Paul Stevens. Toobin cleverly used the topic of clerk hiring as a backdoor way of getting at JPS’s retirement plans:

With the election of Barack Obama, the question of Stevens’s retirement has become more pressing. Even though Stevens was appointed by a Republican President, many assume that he would never willingly have turned his seat over to George W. Bush. I asked Stevens about his plans.

“Well, I still have my options open,” he said. “When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they’d work for me next year if I wanted them to. So I have my options still. And then I’ll have to decide soon.” On March 8th, he told me that he would make up his mind in about a month.

April 8 is just around the corner. If you hear of Justice Stevens re-hiring his former clerks (or hiring new clerks) for October 2010, please let us know.

In an interesting online chat with Toobin about his JPS profile, the subject of clerk hiring came up again….

QUESTION FROM JUSTIN: Do you think that there needs to be an overhaul of the clerk selection system? As currently constructed, very few law schools are represented (mainly Harvard and Yale) and justices tend to pick clerks with the same ideological bent as them.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Thomas makes a point of picking at least some non-Ivy clerks each year. I think it’s inevitable that Justices pick like-minded clerks (although Scalia used to have a liberal each year; no longer). I do think it would be good if they went to a broader group of law schools.

That’s true about Justice Thomas (who has had to defend his clerks against “TTT” accusations). But we don’t believe that Justice Scalia’s practice of hiring a so-called “counter-clerk,” i.e., a liberal to balance out his conservative chambers, has ever been an annual event for Nino. As long as we can remember, it’s been more of a “once every few Terms” type of thing. See also PrawfsBlawg (last comment, noting that “there was a gap from Christine Jolls [OT 1996] to Gil Seinfeld [OT 2002]”).

UPDATE: A source directs our attention to this New York Observer article, noting that NYU law professor Rachel Barkow was the Scalia counter-clerk for OT 1997. But still, the point remains: we know of many Terms in which Justice Scalia has had four conservative clerks.

Now, on to the latest SCOTUS clerk hiring news. Upon information and belief, Justice Alito has completed his clerk hiring for OT 2010. Who are the newest members of the Elect?

We know the names of three of the four clerks to Justice Alito:

1. Steven Menashi (Stanford 2008 / D. Ginsburg)

2. Garrick Sevilla (Duke 2007 / J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.))

3. Tara Stuckey (Notre Dame 2007 / Sutton)

If we’ve gotten anything wrong — if any of this is “not true, not true” — please let us know. (Sevilla’s hiring is confirmed; it was announced over email by Dean David Levi, and written about in Duke Law News — see infra.)

In addition to Justice Alito, we hear that Justice Sotomayor is moving. She’s done some interviews, and she’s made at least one hire: another Duke Law graduate, Amy Mason Saharia ’05.

Go Duke! You can read more about the SCOTUS-bound Blue Devils in Duke Law News. Saharia graduated in 2005, clerked for Judges Robert Chatigny (D. Conn.) and Jon O. Newman (2d Cir.), and now works at Williams & Connolly; Garrick graduated in 2007, clerked for Judge Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Cir.), and now works at a Raleigh law firm named Ellis & Winters.

Several Duke students and alums emailed us to crow about their school’s SCOTUS success. We were happy to receive their messages; reveling in your school’s track record at minting members of the Elect is, well, less insufferable than basketball bragging.

Said one of our sources, of the Dukies headed for One First Street: “A big year for Duke after a long drought!”

How long a drought? Another tipster told us: “This is notable because I think it’s been a long time since a Duke grad has been chosen to clerk for the Supreme Court — I think since the Clinton administration.”

Close. According to the Wikipedia listing of SCOTUS clerks, the last Duke grad to clerk on the Court was the fabulous Mirah Horowitz, in OT 2001 — the first year of the Bush Administration. (Horowitz was fed to the Court by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Cir.), the Latina blonde beauty often mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee herself.)

So here’s the latest list of OT 2010 clerks. Some of these hires are recent, and some are less recent. As we’ve explained before, we generally don’t report SCOTUS clerk hiring in real time, one clerk at a time; we usually wait until we have multiple names to announce.

If you notice an error or omission, or if you have some information that we haven’t already reported, please email us (subject line: “SCOTUS clerk hiring”). We know there are some hires that we haven’t reported yet (in addition to that fourth Alito clerk).

For example, a commenter on the Clerkship Notification Blog claims that Chief Justice Roberts has hired a Harvard 3L for OT 2011, but we don’t have a name yet. We also hear that Justice Thomas is done for OT 2010 and already hiring for OT 2011. (This is not surprising, since Justice Thomas is known for hiring far in advance; we hear he’s interested in hiring this girl for OT 2020.)

Thanks in advance for any new info!

P.S. Professor Todd Peppers — who has (literally) written the book on Supreme Court clerks, Courtiers of the Marble Palace — has a request for the ATL readership:

I’m looking for a way to reach a very broad and sophisticated legal audience (like yours) to gather information for a potential article. In short, I’m trying to collect names of former Supreme Court law clerks with “unconventional” (to wit, non-legal careers). Clerks who didn’t work for the federal or state government, teach at an elite law school, work for a silk stocking law firm, or manage a Fortune 500 company. I already know about Crystal Nix (screenwriter) and author Gretchen Rubin.

If you can help out Professor Peppers, please email him: Thanks!

UPDATE: More hiring news appears in this post.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts
1. Paul Crane (UVA 2007 / Wilkinson)
2. Kate Heinzelman (Yale 2009 / Garland)
3. Zac Hudson (Yale 2009 / Kavanaugh)
4. Kathryn Tarbert (Vanderbilt 2005 / Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.))

Justice John Paul Stevens
1. Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)

[Ed. note: JPS may be retiring.]

Justice Antonin Scalia
1. Robert Allen (Harvard 2009 / Boudin)
2. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch (about to start Bristow Fellowship))
3. Adam Unikowsky (Harvard 2007 / D. Ginsburg)
4. Jason Wilcox (Chicago 2009 / Sutton)

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
1. Steven Horowitz (Harvard 2009 / Posner)
2. Rob Johnson (Harvard 2009 / Kozinski)
3. Richard Re (Yale 2008 / Kavanaugh)
4. James Stern (UVA 2009 / Wilkinson)

(For October Term 2011: Ishan Bhabha (Harvard 2009 / Garland).)

Justice Clarence Thomas
1. Will Peterson (Texas 2008 / Jones (5th Cir.))
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1. Amy Bergquist (U. Minnesota 2007 / W. Fletcher / J. Tunheim (D. Minn.))
2. Keith Bradley (Columbia 2007 / Janice Rogers Brown)
3. David Newman (Yale 2006 / Katzmann / Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.))
4. Elisabeth Theodore (Harvard 2009 / Garland)

Justice Stephen G. Breyer
1. Erika Myers (Stanford 2008 / Kozinski)
2. Brian Netter (Yale 2006 / Rogers (D.C. Cir.))
3. Natalie Ram (Yale 2008 / Calabresi)
4. David Zionts (Harvard 2008 / Garland)

Justice Samuel Alito
1. Steven Menashi (Stanford 2008 / D. Ginsburg)
2. Garrick Sevilla (Duke 2007 / J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.))
3. Tara Stuckey (Notre Dame 2007 / Sutton)
4. ?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
1. Amy Mason Saharia (Duke 2005 / Chatigny (D. Conn.) / Newman)
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (retired):
1. ?

Justice David H. Souter (retired):
1. ?

Two Duke Law grads land Supreme Court clerkships [Duke Law News]
After Stevens: What will the Supreme Court be like without its liberal leader? [New Yorker]
Ask the Author Live: Jeffrey Toobin [New Yorker]
Justice Clarence Thomas sends Cedar Hill student a surprise package [Dallas Morning News]
SCOTUS OT 2010 [Law Clerk Addict]
SCOTUS Clerk Hiring [Clerkship Notification Blog]
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States [Wikipedia]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Supreme Court clerks (scroll down)

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