What else is new? Article III Groupie is terribly behind in her blogging. She humbly offers this latest UTR News and Views post, to tide over her readers while she finishes up several other posts that are in the works. The past two weeks have been fairly busy ones in the world of federal judicial gossip, and A3G has much to report. She realizes that the brief news squibs listed below don't do justice to their topics.
1. Law Clerk Hiring Frenzy Begins. "And they're off!" Pursuant to the 2004 Law Clerk Hiring Plan ("the Plan"), applicants for federal judicial clerkships were allowed to send in their application materials on Tuesday, September 7, 2004 (the day after Labor Day). This past Monday, September 13, judges were allowed to contact applicants to schedule interviews. This coming Monday, September 20, is the first day that judges may conduct interviews and extend clerkship offers. Not all judges and clerkship applicants have been following the Plan, but many of them--including several of the biggest feeder judges--have been adhering to it. "Judges, start your engines!"
For more information on the Plan, as well as gossip about interviews and offers, visit the always engrossing Greedy Clerks board, or the forums of JudicialClerkships.com. To get a sense of the process and how it's unfolding this year, see, e.g., this post (with comments) at The '04 Wall, or these posts at Law Dork.
Jonathan Kravis of The '04 Wall, in this post, asks: "[C]an we think of a saner and more rational clerkship hiring plan than the one in place now?" Not surprisingly, the always opinionated Article III Groupie has an answer:
Judges and law clerks should be brought together through reality TV shows.
Here are some possibilities:
(a) Survivor: Judicial Chambers. Survivor: Vanuatu--what a joke! Retrieving a stone from the top of a pole greased with pig fat? Nothing to it! Building a shelter out of branches and starting a fire with some wet twigs? Child's play! In "Survivor: Judicial Chambers," contestants work on real challenges: preparing bench memos in complex cases, addressing many different substantive areas of law; drafting judicial opinions, for publication in F.3d or F. Supp. 2d; and engaging in Socratic dialogue about the latest Supreme Court precedents, challenged at every step by a brilliant federal judge. The last "survivor" wins a clerkship with a federal judge of his or her choosing.
(b) The Apprentice. Donald Trump's big sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the Third Circuit, puts aspiring law clerks through their paces. Each episode ends with Judge Barry barking at the departing competitor, "You're fired!" The winner gets to clerk for this magnificent judicial diva (and maybe go gambling with her as well).
(c) Fear Factor. In this contest, overseen by Judge Alex Kozinski, competitors must subject themselves to terrifying, disgusting, or humiliating ordeals, of Judge Kozinski's design. Possible stunts might include bungee jumping or plucking the judicial chickens (literally--get your minds out of the gutter, people). Successful competitors "win" a clerkship with Judge Kozinski--so they can suffer like this for an entire year!
(Kidding, kidding! A3G's love for Judge Kozinski is well-documented in the pages of UTR, and spending time with this delightful jurist could never qualify as "suffering." Even though Judge Kozinski is a demanding boss, each year hundreds of law students apply for one of his three coveted clerkship spots, which is unsurprising in light of the superb training that he gives to his clerks and his tremendous track record as a feeder judge.)
(d) Judge Meets Clerk. Based on Boy Meets Boy, "Judge Meets Clerk" will call upon a judge who hires on ideological grounds, such as Judge Stephen Reinhardt (9th Cir.), to select a like-minded clerk from a pool of applicants who all seem--at least on paper--to be ideologically compatible. The twist? Some of the "liberals" vying for a job with Judge Reinhardt are actually card-carrying members of the Federalist Society!
(e) Temptation Island. This show will require pairs of judges and clerks, at the halfway point of clerkships that are going well so far, to "travel to an exotic locale, to test and explore the strength of their relationship." Once at the location, the judge and clerk in each pair are separated from each other, then introduced to eligible counterparts: the judge meets potential clerks to replace the clerk who accompanied her to the island, and the clerk meets potential judges to work for instead of his boss. They go on "dates" with these eligible counterparts, which might involve slipping away to read slip opinions together in a secluded villa, or strolling along a moonlit beach, while chatting about summary judgment standards under the Americans With Disabilities Act. At the end of their stay on the island, after thus being subjected to temptation, the judge and clerk must decide "if what they think they want is really what they're looking for."
Alas, Article III Groupie's proposal for reforming law clerk hiring must wait until next year for implementation. For this year, A3G wishes the best of luck to all of her readers caught in the middle of Clerkshippalooza.
2. Rehnquist Underwear Update. In her very first post on this blog, UTR's Mission Statement, Article III Groupie posed the following question: "Does Chief Justice Rehnquist wear boxers or briefs? Probably boxers, except when playing tennis with his law clerks."
Well, A3G must offer an apology to her readers: she failed to consider the possibility that the Chief might be sporting a thong underneath his robe.
This scenario is not as outlandish as it might seem. Think about it. Would the style-conscious Chief Justice--the man who, after all, ordered himself a custom-made robe with gold stripes on the sleeve--tolerate VPL?
3. Vanity Fair Publishes Delicious Supreme Court Gossip. Run, don't walk, to your nearest newsstand, and pick up a copy of the October 2004 issue of Vanity Fair (unfortunately not available online). In "The Path to Florida: What Really Happened in the 2000 Election," David Margolick, Evgenia Peretz (is she an ancient Roman?), and Michael Shnayerson provide an exceedingly juicy, behind-the-scenes account of how Bush v. Gore played out at the Supreme Court.
If she had the time, A3G would share with you the yummiest tidbits of gossip from the article. But there's just too much great stuff in the piece, so you'll just have to go read it yourself. The article is terribly biased, written from a very liberal perspective, but Article III Groupie--who is terribly biased herself--knows that good gossip has no party affiliation. For additional discussion of the article, see, e.g., this post by Professor Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy. (A3G has a few thoughts of her own on the VF piece, but whether she'll ever get around to expressing them here is doubtful.)
4. Judge Garza Passes Away. The federal judiciary recently lost another one of its own. Judge Reynaldo G. Garza, who served on the Southern District of Texas and then the Fifth Circuit, passed away of pneumonia at age 89, as noted here.
As far as A3G knows, the late Judge Garza was no relation to Judge Emilio M. Garza, also of the Fifth Circuit. Judge Emilio Garza is believed to be in fine health, ready to say "¡Hola!" to the Supreme Court should President Bush win reelection. (Before you accuse A3G of racism for merely suggesting the possibility of a familial connection between two Hispanic judges on the Fifth Circuit who share a last name, she would note that there are a surprising number of relatives serving together on federal appellate courts--e.g., the Fletchers, the Arnolds--as discussed in more detail in this article by Professor Michael E. Solimine.)
5. Anthrax Scare at D.C. Circuit. As reported here by How Appealing, three judges of the D.C. Circuit--yes, A3G just bowed her head out of respect to that court--received letters containing what was feared to be anthrax (but actually wasn't). The judges in question were Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, UTR's #18 feeder judge for OT 1999 to OT 2003; Judge David S. Tatel, the #6 feeder for this period; and Judge David B. Sentelle, the #13 feeder. The timing of the letters is noteworthy, coming at the height of law clerk hunting season.
6. D.C. Circuit Nominee on the Way "Out"? While we're on the subject of the D.C. Circuit, it looks like nominee Thomas B. Griffith, the "Five Minutes Ago" judicial nominee of Robing Room Report, may actually belong in the "Out" column. Given the fast approaching presidential election, Griffith's confirmation was already highly unlikely--but as reported in this article, it may now be totally dead (despite support from that Article III kingmaker, Senator Orrin Hatch). Senate Democrats are still making a big fuss over BarDuesGate. Quoth Senator Leahy: "This is a man who practiced law in two states in violation of the laws--what a fine, fine standard the White House has [for judicial nominees]. In my state he would be prosecuted. I've never seen anything so unbelievable."
Ouch! As the wounded Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) said to Tai Frasier (a pre-anorexia, pre-makeover Brittany Murphy), in that cinematic classic Clueless, "That was way harsh." (For those of you who can't recall this moment and don't know "Clueless" by heart, a sin for which there is no excuse, this remark was made in response to Tai's cruel dismissal of Cher as "a virgin who can't drive.")
7. UTR "Has a Jones" for Judge Jones. As noted in this post, Judge Edith H. Jones of the Fifth Circuit--who is both a judicial diva and a judicial hottie--appears frequently on Supreme Court short-lists for a Republican administration. But Judge Jones might be a tough sell in the Senate, as a "Federalist Society pin-up girl" and alleged "horsewoman of the right-wing apocalypse." Well, this opinion--check out this excerpt (via Right Side of the Rainbow)--won't exactly endear her to Democrats in the Senate. Reasonable people can disagree over what is included under "viability," but the concept probably does not extend to Judge Jones's Supreme Court hopes.
Judge Jones, for what it's worth, please draw consolation from knowing that you are one of Article III Groupie's super-favorite judges!
For the news items reported herein, A3G must thank her loyal readers and fellow bloggers. She must extend special thanks to Howard Bashman, since she learned of many of these news items through How Appealing. Thanks also to Mr. Bashman for, "after much clamoring from readers," naming UTR an "Especially Appealing" blog.
P.S. Article III Groupie has certain non-blog related matters to attend to over the next few days, so she may not be blogging or e-mailing for a little while. She knows that you'll miss her, but she promises to return to the blogosphere as soon as possible.