If Learned Hand’s opinions are like the products of a bespoke tailor, the opinions coming out of the Ninth Circuit are like the products of a factory that is staffed by machines and menial workers who are overseen from afar by a handful of overworked managers.

– Justice Samuel Alito, in a recent speech at Rutgers School of Law (Newark), lamenting the decline of craftsmanship in judicial opinions.

(An interesting fact about Justice Alito and the Ninth Circuit, after the jump.)

Is the low regard in which Justice Alito apparently holds the Ninth Circuit reflected in his law clerk hiring? As you can see from reviewing the list of past Supreme Court clerks on Wikipedia, Justice Alito has never hired a law clerk out of the Ninth Circuit.

For purposes of this calculation, I’m not counting former Alito clerk Sasha Volokh, who previously clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski (now Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit). The reason: Volokh was actually hired as a SCOTUS clerk by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. When Justice O’Connor retired, Justice Alito picked up two of her clerks, Sasha Volokh and Ben Horwich.


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