Clarence Thomas, Clerkships, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks

Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Meet Justice Thomas’s Clerks

Justice Clarence Thomas — who tends to hire clerks from a wide range of law schools, including some schools far outside the so-called “T14″ — has had to defend himself against (unfounded) allegations that his clerks are “TTT” (an epithet so ridiculous it always makes us laugh). At the same time, because he’s the justice tasked with going to Capitol Hill to beg for money to testify in support of the SCOTUS budget request, he also has to defend the Court against charges of elitism in law clerk hiring, leveled by grandstanding lawmakers.

Hiring law clerks from Ivy League law schools: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

For this coming Term, October Term 2010, Justice Thomas has steered his chambers back in the direction of elitism. All of his clerks for OT 2010 hail from top schools.

So, who are they?

Justice Thomas’s clerks for October Term 2010 are:

1. Matthew Fitzgerald (UVA 2008 / Carnes)
2. Allison Jones (Duke 2007 / Gorsuch / Sentelle)
3. Elbert Lin (Yale 2003 / W. Pryor)
4. William Peterson (Texas 2008 / Jones (5th Cir.))

Congratulations to this fabulous foursome. Fitzgerald and Jones sound very impressive, based on the nice write-ups on their law school websites (here and here, respectively). We issue a special shout-out to Elbert Lin, aka “Mr. LEWW” — husband of Laurie Lin, who writes Above the Law’s Legal Eagle Wedding Watch column.

Thanks to CT’s hiring of Allison Jones, Duke Law will have a bumper crop of three SCOTUS clerks next Term. Crows one graduate:

I may be biased as a Duke alum, but getting three SCOTUS clerks in one year from Duke is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, especially in light of the drought that we’d had since the last one. I have to believe that the current Dean, former District Court Judge David Levi, has had a very positive effect on the judiciary’s view of Duke grads.

While I was there, they were certainly trying to ramp up the clerkship placements, and a number of faculty members were really trying to establish Duke as school that can place grads in the best clerkships. I think Dean Levi has added another dimension to that effort, and I’m really impressed.

Like Duke, UVA will also have three grads clerking on the Court for OT 2010. This is somewhat less noteworthy, though, since Virginia has long had a strong track record when it comes to minting members of the Elect (better than several schools that are higher than UVA on the U.S. News law school rankings, interestingly enough).

In addition to hiring from elite law schools, Justice Thomas went for experience with this bunch. There are no 2009 graduates in the group. It appears that most of them are currently working at law firms: Matt Fitzgerald at Hunton & Williams, Allison Jones at Williams & Connolly, Elbert Lin at Wiley Rein, and Will Peterson at Beck Reden & Secrest.

Although CT did hire from law schools that would count as “usual suspects” in sending their graduates on to the Court, his hires do add to the Court’s diversity in terms of feeder judges. Of the lower-court judges that Justice Thomas hired from, only Judge Sentelle (D.C. Cir.) would count as a well-established feeder judge.

(Judge Gorsuch (10th Cir.) is definitely one to watch for future feeding potential, though. He fits the profile of a feeder judge: young, smart, and a member of the Elect himself.)

Now that we know the identities of CT’s clerks, we think we know all the clerks for OT 2010, with these exceptions: (1) the clerks to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and (2) the clerks to the (not yet nominated) successor to Justice John Paul Stevens. (In terms of when to expect a nominee, Newsweek reports that the announcement will come out between May 1 and 15.)

Let’s focus on the missing Sotomayor clerks. Several sources have passed along the name of Kevin Arlyck (NYU 2008 / Katzmann). Arlyck was supposed to have clerked for Judge Sotomayor on the Second Circuit during the 2009-2010 judicial year, but got picked up by SS’s former colleague and close friend, Judge Robert Katzmann, when Sotomayor was elevated. We’ve heard his name from multiple sources, so we’re fairly sure he’s going up in OT 2010.

We’ve received the names of several other clerks selected by Sotomayor for Second Circuit service who might be clerking for her in the future (including a Yale grad clerking for Debra Livingston and a Stanford grad clerking for Barrington Parker). But we don’t know for a fact that they’re definitely clerking for her on the Court or, if so, which Term they’ll be serving.

Can you help nail down the Sotomayor clerks with 100 percent accuracy? Por favor, dígame (subject line: “Sotomayor clerk hiring”). Gracias.


With Justice Thomas’s clerks added, here’s the latest list of OT 2010 clerks (and a handful of clerks for OT 2011). 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”). Thanks.


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.))

For October Term 2011: Hagan Scotten (Harvard 2010 / Kavanaugh).

Justice Antonin Scalia
1. Robert Allen (Harvard 2009 / Boudin)
2. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch)
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. Matthew Fitzgerald (UVA 2008 / Carnes)
2. Allison Jones (Duke 2007 / Gorsuch / Sentelle)
3. Elbert Lin (Yale 2003 / W. Pryor)
4. Will Peterson (Texas 2008 / Jones (5th Cir.))

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)

For October Term 2011: Gerry Sinzdak (Berkeley 2008 / Berzon).

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. John Cerreta (Cornell 2005 / Chagares / Alito (3d Cir.))
2. Steven Menashi (Stanford 2008 / D. Ginsburg)
3. Garrick Sevilla (Duke 2007 / J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.))
4. Tara Stuckey (Notre Dame 2007 / Sutton)

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
1. Abby Mollen (Northwestern 2008 / Tatel)
2. Amy Mason Saharia (Duke 2005 / Chatigny (D. Conn.) / Newman)
3. ?
4. ?

Successor to Justice John Paul Stevens
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice John Paul Stevens (retiring at the end of OT 2009)
1. Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (retired):
1. Kristen Eichensehr (Yale 2008 / Garland)

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

Duke Law celebrates a third Supreme Court clerkship [Duke Law News]
Fitzgerald ’08 to Clerk for Justice Thomas [Virginia Law]
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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