Anthony Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh, David Souter, Guido Calabresi, Harvard, J. Michael Luttig, John Paul Stevens, Merrick Garland, Munger Tolles & Olson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Clerks, Weddings

Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: Term of Endearment

The Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 Term resulted in many notable decisions, including Ricci v. DeStafano and NAMUDNO v. Holder. It also resulted in some epic romances among the law clerks who ruled the building that year. This edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch features an astounding five Supreme Court clerks, all from that steamy OT ’08 class.

With five SCOTUS clerks — plus one former White House counsel — this is sure to be one prestige-drenched competition. Settle in, wedding watchers. Here are your finalists:

Jennifer Wynn and Damian Williams

Erin Delaney and Travis Lenkner

Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon

Beth Nolan and Charles Wright

You’ll find all the details on these lawyer newlyweds, plus many more, after the jump.

1. Jennifer Wynn and Damian Williams
(Buy them a vacuum cleaner.)

The Case:
– Our first stunningly impressive couple sports his-and-hers undergraduate degrees from Harvard — not a bad place to start. The bride also has a master’s from Hunter College and is beginning an MBA program at NYU.
– The groom, besides being a total freaking dreamboat, has a master’s from Cambridge and a JD from Yale. He clerked for Judge Merrick Garland on the DC Circuit and, like many Garland clerks, ascended gracefully to the nirvana of a SCOTUS clerkship. He clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens during that love-drenched October 2008 Term. Damian now works in Manhattan as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The Case Against:
– Full disclosure: This couple is not going to win this week’s competition. And as a great man once said, “I really don’t have time to explain how 400 years of cultural stereotypes, oppression, and unequal opportunities led, inexorably, to this moment.” Enough said. My point is made.

2. Erin Delaney and Travis Lenkner

The Case:
– Brace yourself for two more OT ’08 Supreme Court clerks. This bride and groom both clerked that year with the groom above, she for Justice David Souter and he for Justice Anthony Kennedy.
– Erin was magna at Harvard; she also earned a PhD in international relations from Cambridge and a JD, magna, from NYU. She previously clerked for Second Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi, who officiated at the wedding. She’s now an assistant professor of law at Northwestern.
– Travis, whose father is a Kansas cattle rancher, graduated from Kansas State and has a JD from the University of Kansas, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review. His appellate clerkship was for Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit. He works as senior counsel for the Boeing Company, where his boss is former Fourth Circuit feeder judge J. Michael Luttig.

The Case Against:
– We have no idea how Travis and Erin’s romance progressed, but given how hard the Court’s various factions lobby to influence Travis’s boss, Justice Kennedy, we like to imagine that their inter-chambers relationship added yet another level of intrigue to the Term. We also like to imagine One First Street as a giant Love Boat with Chief Justice John Roberts as the captain and Justice Sonia Sotomayor as Tattoo. Wait, that’s probably offensive. And definitely the wrong show.

3. Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon

The Case:
– Can’t get enough of OT ’08 SCOTUS clerks? You’re in luck! Two more are approaching the chuppah now. While Couple #2 was forging a thrilling cross-chambers alliance, this one fell in love quietly at home, so to speak, in the chambers of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for whom both the bride and groom clerked. The Justice herself officiated at their ceremony, which is beautifully depicted in photographs here and tenderly described here:

We are used to hearing the words “by the power vested in me by the State of California” (or increasingly, the Universal Life Church) but it’s quite another thing, and thrilling indeed, to hear a member of the Supreme Court utter the words “by the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of the United States,” knowing she is one of only eight other people in the world who can do so.

OMG, who else has goosebumps?

– The glowing bride was magna at both Yale and Harvard Law School and has a master’s from Oxford. Before her Ginsburg clerkship, she clerked for Judge Garland (where one of her co-clerks was Damian Williams, our first groom). She’s now an associate at Munger Tolles in San Francisco.
– This is where we abandon our usual subtlety and simply batter you with the brute force of this couple’s credentials. The groom, an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin, has a JD from Yale and is now a senior associate at Orrick. He also has a master’s from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Also, after he finished clerking for Justice Ginsburg, he stuck around for another year and clerked for newly minted Justice Sonia Sotomayor. So, in summary: A Rhodes Scholar with two SCOTUS clerkships is married by a Supreme Court Justice to one of his SCOTUS co-clerks. Soak it up, wedding watchers. We may not see legal/nuptial prestige of this magnitude again in our lifetimes.

The Case Against:
– From the same write-up we cited above, we learn that throughout Miriam and Rob’s ceremony Justice Ginsburg alternated the words “husband and wife” with “wife and husband.” God bless liberals and their little tics. It reminds us of our progressive friends dressing their little boys in purple and bitching about “gendered” toys. Harmless, perhaps, but until their earnest little speeches cause men to grow uteruses and lactate, we’ll continue to roll our eyes.

Beth Nolan and Charles Wright
(Buy them a toaster oven.)

The Case:
– With sadness, we bid the SCOTUS class of OT ’08 farewell. But our final couple is also stellar. Readers who recall 1990s politics will recognize the bride as a major player in the executive branch. She was an associate White House counsel from 1993 to 1995 and later White House counsel to President Clinton. A graduate of Scripps College with a JD, magna, from Georgetown, she is now the general counsel for George Washington University.
– The groom is a dancer and choreographer. He graduated from Concordia College. University general counsel + dancer/choreographer seems like an unlikely pairing at first, but the write-up notes that the couple have known each other since they were first-graders. We sense a sweet story here.
– A guest in attendance reports that the wedding celebration was classy and memorable:

Beth was radiant, her super-toned physique showcased by an elegant evening dress. A star-studded mix of Clinton/Obama legal and political minds attended the wedding, including former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, now chair of the Center for American Progress; former Clinton defender Cheryl Mills, who gave an evocative and heartfelt tribute to her sister-in-arms; and former Nolan aide-turned-private-equity-fund manager Benjamin Adams, who gave a passionate reading of Ogden Nash’s “I Do, I Will, I Have” for the happy couple. The Metropolitan Club event was perfection, and the festivities carried on into the wee hours. All in all, a fabulous fête!

The Case Against:
The bride and groom are both 61 and on their second marriages, but they have five registries and are requesting gifts like towels, stemware, and a $350 KitchenAid mixer. We don’t condemn second-marriage registries in every case — every situation is different — but going Full KitchenAid seems excessive here.

The Verdict:
The only thing that can cost a Two-Elect couple the Wedding of the Week crown is . . . another Two-Elect couple. Let’s face it: This was always going to come down to the Souter-on-Kennedy pairing of Team Delaney-Lenkner versus the Ginsburg-on-Ginsburg Team Seifter-Yablon. Both couples are amazing — indeed, so are the other two — but it’s not hard to see that with a Rhodes Scholarship, a Supreme Court Justice for an officiant, and a third SCOTUS clerkship, Team Seifter-Yablon is a ruthlessly elite husband-wife/wife-husband unit that cannot be stopped. Congratulations and best wishes to them, and to all the newlyweds!

UPDATE (11:30 PM): Regarding the Delaney/Lenkner wedding, we’ve been advised as follows by a guest:

The Delaney/Lenkner write-up might have mentioned, and considered in the analysis, the facts that Justice Souter walked her down the aisle (yes, really), Judge Calabresi presided, and Judge Kavanaugh attended. How many brides do you know get escorted down the aisle by a Justice?

Very impressive indeed! Our final verdict remains unchanged, but this certainly makes it a closer contest.

Honorable Mention:
Anna Sproul and Matthew Latimer (Michigan)
Fiona McCormack and Dermot Foley Jr. (Brooklyn) (Don’t miss the last paragraph, where the NYT gets all indignant about the Rosenberg trial.)
Sarah Nelson and Daniel McAvoy(2, Stanford, NYU, Nixon Peabody)
Caitlin Patterson and Spencer Haught (Harvard)
Virginia Farmer and David Morris (Harvard)
Christopher Michaud and Andrew Cohen (Columbia, Debevoise)
Alexandra Glazer and Matthew Murphy (2, Fordham, BC, ADAs)
Sara Wexler and Marcus Koblitz (Duke, Sidley)
Jessica Wong and Phillip Wang (2, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Cadwalader, DLA Piper, bride keeping her name)
Teale Clark and Tarlton Long Jr. (Virginia, Gibson Dunn)
Lauren Yee and Zachary Zwillinger (Harvard, Cravath)
Jessica Freese and George Turner (2, Harvard, St. John’s, Davis Polk)
Kathryn Babick and Benjamin Brickner (Columbia, Debevoise)
Diane McKay and Robert Dickey III (Duke, Morgan Lewis)
Kate Stamell and Adam Piekarski (Michigan, Cravath)
Bethany Perskie and Jason Shelly (2, Georgetown)
Cristina Thorsen and Brian O’Donoghue (Yale)
Elizabeth Mustin and Christian Davis (Georgetown, Akin Gump)
Katherine Penberthy and Gregory Padgett (2, Tulane, Columbia, Covington)
Seth Blinder and Anthony Sireci (UPenn, Gibson Dunn)
Haven Thompson and Will Boothby (Harvard, Ropes & Gray)
Leslie Pope and Burden Walker (Yale, Kellogg Huber)
Robyn Mar and Ría Tabacco (2, NYU)
Liore Milgrom-Elcott and David Gartner (2, Duke, Cornell)
Michelle LaBlanc and Gregory Lukianoff (Stanford)
Emily Chiswick-Patterson and Matan Shacham (Harvard)
Daniel Noble and Ryan Fleenor (Yale)
Julie Feldman and Eric Hamburg (Chicago)
Marissa Piropato and Stephan Rodiger (Chicago)

ATL Law School Directory
(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments