Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas in conversation with Judge Diane Sykes.

Over the past few years, some amazing speakers have appeared at the Thursday evening dinner of the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. Last year, Justice Samuel A. Alito offered a very funny look back at his time at Yale Law School. In 2010, Justice Antonin Scalia engaged in a spirited and wide-ranging conversation with legal journalist Jan Crawford.

Last night’s event will be tough to top. Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking with Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit, delivered remarks that were “equal parts hysterical, poignant and inspiring,” as Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett noted on Twitter.

I was lucky enough to attend, seated just one table away from the stage. Here’s my account of the evening (plus a few photos)….

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* A Texas court overturned Tom DeLay’s conviction on money laundering charges. DeLay immediately thanked Jesus, who played an instrumental role in the three judge panel’s deliberations. [New York Times]

* Eric Holder has eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for those low-level nonviolent drug offenders whose cases are currently pending. In related news, here is a cow riding a razor scooter. [Washington Post]

* This says J.P. Morgan actually did just fine in their settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I get the hugest boner from underdog stories like this one. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A woman has sued Getty Images after her photo was used in an HIV advertisement. She’s apparently holding out for the herp campaign. [New York Post]

* More from Clarence Thomas in Portland: “Why was a black kid in Georgia reading Ayn Rand?” I don’t know. Because he was dumb? [ABC News]

You are fortunate to have your misfortunes.

– Justice Clarence Thomas, in a conversation with Dakota Garza, a young woman who was once homeless, after she asked him to eat a meal with her on a dare. Thomas later helped Garza secure enough scholarship money to cover the entire cost of her college tuition at the University of Portland.

A clerk at One First Street (click to enlarge).

Ten years after their time at One First Street, where do Supreme Court clerks wind up? Back in 2004, I tossed out a number of possibilities: high-ranking government posts, lucrative partnerships at leading law firms, and tenured professorships at top law schools.

That seems to be about right. Professor Derek Muller put together this interesting analysis — via Orin Kerr, via Judge Dillard on Twitter — of the SCOTUS clerk class from ten years ago. The clerks for October Term 2003 now occupy some pretty prestigious perches, including posts in the Solicitor General’s Office and the Office of Legal Counsel, professorships at Harvard and Yale, and partnerships at Sullivan & Cromwell and Paul Weiss.

Who will follow in their footsteps? We have some new goodies for devotees of SCOTUS law clerk hiring.

Keep reading for a look at (1) the official list of Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2013, courtesy of the Court itself; (2) our unofficial list of OT 2013 clerks, with law school and prior clerkship information; and (3) an updated list of October Term 2014 hires thus far. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has hired multiple clerks for OT 2014, suggesting that she’s not going anywhere….

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Behold The Nine.

Elie here. In sports, we assess the legacy of athletes after every game. In politics, we assess the legacy of elected officials after every vote or scandal. So why can’t we do the same for Supreme Court justices?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been a pretty big week over at One First Street. The Court has decided a number of high-profile, controversial cases. Those decisions have come down with strong holdings, blistering dissents, and stinging concurrences. Each justice is aware that the words they’ve published this week could be around for a long time, long after they’re dead, and will be judged by history.

But who has time to wait for history? David Lat and I engage in some instant legacy analysis on what this week has meant for each of the nine justices on the Supreme Court. Let’s break it down in order of seniority, starting with the Chief….

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* A company is selling pork-laced bullets to “keep Islamics from going to Heaven.” Ever since Denny’s, they’re putting bacon in everything… [CBS Seattle]

* Justice Thomas is really terrible. This is probably why #UncleThomas is trending on Twitter. [Jezebel]

* A feminist critique of law reviews based on the Russell Crowe film, Gladiator. This sounds intriguing. [TaxProf Blog]

* If you wanted to know how the judge decided the audio expert issue in the Zimmerman trial, we’ve got you covered. If you wanted to know when attorney Don West will compile his collection of Greatest Opening Statement Jokes, we have no idea. [The Expert Institute]

* TNT has a new show dropping teams in Tasmania and forcing them to endure… a knockoff of The Amazing Race and Survivor. But an L.A.-based attorney is on this Friday trying to win $100,000, or what we used to call “a year-end bonus.” [TNT Newsroom]

* Ken White breaks down all the charges against Edward Snowden. To avoid these charges, Snowden is holed up in the transit zone of the Moscow airport, which I hear has a really terrible TGI Friday’s where Snowden will get to eat for the indefinite future. [Popehat]

* Anonymous Partner isn’t the only one with advice for summer associates. Here are tips from Grover Cleveland, author of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks (affiliate link), and Katherine Larkin-Wong, president of Ms. JD. [The Careerist]

* Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and Professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz debate an upcoming Supreme Court case, Bond v. United States, concerning the treaty power. [Cato Institute]

Finally. The Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas, the closely watched affirmative action case.

And the result might surprise you. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the Court, which should shock no one. But here’s a surprise: the vote breakdown was 7-1 (with Justice Kagan recused).

How did Justice Kennedy garner seven votes for a ruling on one of the most controversial issues of our time?

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I took Crim Law my first semester in law school. My professor, now the school’s dean, was an imposing fellow to 1L eyes. He looked approximately seven feet tall, with a deep, booming voice, a propensity for cold-calling, and a demanding, often impenetrable teaching style. I loved the class, even though I went into fight-or-flight mode in the minutes before he would stroll down the aisle of the auditorium.

We read the Apprendi line of cases, where the Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial prevented judges from enhancing criminal sentences beyond statutory maximums based on facts other than those decided by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. I thought I grasped the gist, with my nervous 1L brain. Then we got to Harris v. United States. In Harris, the majority held that Apprendi did not apply to facts that would increase a defendant’s mandatory minimum sentence. Judges could apply mandatory minimums on the basis of facts not proved to a jury, without violating the Sixth Amendment. These fact were sentencing factors, the majority held, not offense elements.

Terrified that I had misunderstood something crucial, I visited my crim prof’s office before the class when we would discuss Harris. I recited the cases up to that point, if for no other reason than to show that I had, in fact, been reading and that my ultimate confusion was not because I was totally mentally challenged. (Even if just a little.) I summarized my understanding of the Court’s holding in Harris, why it just didn’t square, how I knew that I must be missing something, because I just didn’t see how Harris properly followed. After way too long, I finally sputtered, “Sir, I’m . . . I’m just . . . confused.”

My prof leaned back in his chair, paused dramatically, sighed, then replied, “Ms. Tabo, of course you are confused. The Supreme Court is confused.”

As of this week, the Court is no longer so confused….

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Lauren Giddings

* You think you know Justice Clarence Thomas, but you have no idea. Here are several myths about the silent Supreme Court star that he was capable of busting in just this term alone. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* According to the CBO, the immigration reform bill being considered in the Senate would allow eight million immigrants to gain legal status and lower the deficit by billions. But alas, dey still terk er jerbs! [NPR]

* Google is doing its best to try not to be evil by asking the FISA court to ease up on gag orders preventing the internet giant from telling the world about what it’s required to give to the government. [Washington Post]

* Florida firm Becker & Poliakoff will withhold 20% of equity partners’ pay, a move that made some lawyers cry. The firm is apparently planning to save the cash for a rainy day. [Daily Business Review]

* Paul Mannina, an attorney with the Labor Department charged with sexually assaulting a coworker, was found in his cell with his throat slashed. Police are investigating the death. [Washington Post]

* FYI, your aspirational pro bono hours — or complete and utter lack thereof — will now be public record in New York, and you must report them on your biannual registration forms. [New York Law Journal]

* Coming soon to a law school near you: really old books from the 13th century that’ll probably turn into dust if you dare try to read them. You can find this nerdgasm over at Yale Law. [National Law Journal]

* The family of Lauren Giddings, the slain Mercer Law graduate, has filed a $5 million wrongful death suit in federal court against accused killer Stephen McDaniel in the hopes of finding her remains. [Telegraph]

Hint: the smallest justice may have the biggest net worth.

If you said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that wouldn’t be a bad guess. She has earned millions of dollars in royalties from her bestselling book, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Her days of dental debts are behind her.

But she’s still far from the richest member of the Court. That honor would appear to belong to another woman, whose stature might be small but whose net worth is gigantic….

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