J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Don’t say we never bring you happy news here at Above the Law. Yesterday, for example, we extended congratulations to the 2014 Skadden Fellows, 28 graduating law students and judicial clerks who just landed prestigious public interest fellowships.

Today we are pleased to present to you the 2014 Bristow Fellows. As we’re previously explained, the holders of these one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office get to work on cases pending before the Supreme Court, some of the most fascinating and important matters in all the land.

Bristow Fellowships, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

Who are the newest Bristow Fellows? Where did they graduate from law school, and for whom did they clerk? Inquiring minds want to know….

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I remember riding home one evening with Justice Lewis Powell, whom I was serving as a law clerk. I was pumped over a vote he had cast that day, and I expected him to share my excitement. He responded that he considered himself fortunate if only 48 percent of the legitimate points to be made were on the other side.

– Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, writing in a Washington Post op-ed piece about the virtues required of judges — and how the elimination of the filibuster on many presidential nominees could lead to a less balanced judiciary.

* Amanda Bynes is deemed mentally competent to stand trial. I’d seek a second opinion. [TMZ]

* Male bosses are more popular than female bosses according to Gallup. This probably reveals persistent chauvinism in the workplace, but given Gallup’s track record the last couple of elections, female bosses may well be beloved. [The Careerist]

* Competing construction experts tussle over the proper way to build a parking garage. The correct answer is: in a way that doesn’t fall down. [The Expert Institute]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens offer their second installment addressing how to fix the legal profession. This time the target is the law school model. Join the revolution! [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Here’s Corporette’s Suit of the Week! [Corporette]

* If you’re representing a defense contractor, it’s a lot easier to export their wares these days. But the system isn’t fully reformed yet. [Breaking Defense]

* The Society for Chinese Law is hosting an evening of food and drinks featuring a panel of professionals from major law firms. [Society for Chinese Law at Columbia Law School]

* For those who missed (or only followed along on Twitter) the Fed Soc debate between Professor Randy Barnett and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on whether judges are too deferential to legislatures, the full video is available after the jump. [Volokh Conspiracy]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 11.21.13″


This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.

(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)

In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.

Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….

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While we wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) — by the way, live audio or video coverage would be nice — let’s pick up where we left off yesterday, with coverage of the latest Supreme Court clerk hiring.

We’ll start with some analysis of the October Term 2012 law clerks, now that we know who they are, and then show you the updated law clerk lists for OT 2012 and OT 2013….

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Justice Elena Kagan

It seems like we’re all working hard. It’s not like we’re playing golf on Wednesday afternoons.

– Justice Elena Kagan, in remarks delivered at Harvard Law School this past Friday to the National Association of Women Judges.

(A second Quote of the Day, from a circuit judge who feeds clerks to Justice Kagan, after the jump.)

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Congratulations to the 2012 Bristow Fellows, who learned of their selection earlier this month. These one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

Let’s take a look at the next crop of Bristow Fellows. Which law schools did they graduate from, and for whom did they clerk?

Also: over the past three years, which law schools and judges have minted the most Bristow Fellows?

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Federalist Society gala 2.jpg
At the Federalist Society festivities: Ryan Bounds, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy; Deputy Associate Attorney General John O’Quinn; and Susanna Dokupil, Assistant Solicitor General for the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.
Last week, the Federalist Society celebrated its 25th anniversary, with a black-tie gala at Union Station. The official ATL report, by Laurie Lin, is available here; the account of the Washington Post appears here (via the WSJ Law Blog).
Since we were there also, we figured we might as well add our two cents. Some random tidbits about the evening, along with a few more photos, after the jump.

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Porter Wilkinson J Harvie Wilkinson Above the Law blog.jpgNot too long ago, we said we had a “gut feeling” that some Supreme Court clerk hiring was going on (despite the Court being in recess). We were right.
Meet Porter Wilkinson. And don’t hate her because she’s beautiful. Or brilliant. Or rich. Or the daughter of a top feeder judge and frequent Supreme Court short-lister, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.).
Or, for that matter, a future Supreme Court clerk. We hear that Judge Wilkinson’s daughter — yes, Porter is a girl’s name, if you’re a WASP — just landed an October Term 2008 clerkship with Chief Justice John Roberts. Congratulations, Porter!
Not surprisingly, we hear that the young Ms. Wilkinson is fairly conservative — in case you couldn’t have guessed that from the fact that she’s currently clerking for Judge Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) (alongside the lovely, and recently married, Zina Gelman).
And where did we hear about Porter’s politics? From Judge Wilkinson himself!
In late July, we attended the excellent national convention of the American Constitution Society, in Washington, DC. Judge Wilkinson was on one of the panels. In thanking the ACS for inviting him, he noted that his son is a member of the liberal organization — but that he’s balanced out by his sister Porter, a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. We bet the Wilkinsons must have interesting dinner table conversations.
Porter Wilkinson continues the trend of fathers and daughters who both clerked for the Court (as noted by Tony Mauro). See here.
Update: A tipster tells us, “FYI, Porter was an All-American lacrosse player at UNC. See here. Her husband [Christian Cook] was lacrosse Defenseman of the Year at Princeton and three-time national champion. Formerly of the Secret Service. See here. They got married this past summer in Charlottesville.”
With Porter Wilkinson added, the current list of OT 2008 clerks thus far appears after the jump.
Graduation Awards: Four in the Class of 2007: Porter Wilkinson [Virginia Law]
Carter Phillips’ Kin Is Alito Clerk [Legal Times]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #5)”

ted olson theodore b olson theodore olson.jpgThis past Saturday, October 21, Washington superlawyer Ted Olson and his fiancee, Lady Booth, were married. The wedding ceremony took place at the stunningly beautiful Meadowood resort, in Napa Valley, California.
Olson, a giant of the Supreme Court bar, served as Solicitor General — the federal government’s top lawyer before the Supreme Court — from 2001 to 2004. He’s currently a partner in the elite D.C. office of top-flight firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Olson successfully litigated the landmark 2000 election case, Bush v. Gore, in the Supreme Court. On the losing side: renowned litigator David Boies. But presumably there were no hard feelings, since Boies showed up for the wedding festivities — along with many other legal luminaries.
Some legal celebrity sightings, from the Washington Post’s Reliable Source:

More than 300 guests attended the midafternoon ceremony on the golf course, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, legal commentators Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, legal names such as Robert Bork, Kenneth Starr, David Boise [sic], and Olson’s law partner Bill Kilberg. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman performed the ceremony, and Wall Street Journal Publisher Gordon Crovitz served as best man.

This is Booth’s first marriage and Olson’s fourth. The couple will honeymoon in Hawaii.

We hear through the grapevine that the wedding was, not surprisingly, “a great time. It seemed like half of Washington was there!”
Other notable guests: Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, of the Fourth Circuit; Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, of the Ninth Circuit, and his ever-stylish wife, Maura O’Scannlain; Frank Fahrenkopf, former RNC chairman and current gaming industry superlobbyist, with his wife, Mary; current Solicitor General Paul Clement; and conservative pundit Laura Ingraham.
Despite the tremendous collective brainpower of these august guests, we hear that several of them were left scratching their impressive craniums by one wedding detail: the request on the wedding invite for “Napa Casual” attire.
These leading minds of the bench and bar can slice, dice, define and parse the most complex legal terms known to man. But throw two innocent little words at them — “Napa Casual” — and watch them panic.
If only every day could be a court day. Who doesn’t look good in black?
Update: You can check out photographs from the wedding by clicking here.
Napa Nuptials for Olson and His Lady [Washington Post]
Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General bio [USDOJ.gov]
Theodore Olson [Wikipedia]

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