'Tis the season! What, is it Christmas already? No, not quite. Rather, as UTR just reported, it's the time of year when hundreds of anxious law students rush all over the country, on their own dime, to interview for prestigious clerkships with federal judicial deities.
As a former clerk herself, Article III Groupie knows firsthand the tremendous value of the clerkship experience. Indeed, she has the highest of compliments to pay to clerkships: clerkships are like spa treatments. A good judicial clerkship is like a very vigorous shiatsu massage: it involves a lot of pressure, and sometimes it's almost grueling, but it's a wonderful and enjoyable experience overall, and you'll be a better person for having done it. If you're clerking for a very demanding judge--e.g., a slave-driving member of the tag team that officiated at the Engel-Kearns nuptials--your clerkship might be more similar to a Brazilian wax: it's extremely painful at times, and sometimes you think it will never end; but once it's over, you realize it was totally worth it!
So, you know you want a clerkship, and you have some great interviews scheduled for this week. Now you want to know: How can I turn those interviews into a job? Assuming her role as Emily Post for the federal judiciary, A3G offers the following advice: Bring the judge a gift!*
(By the way, looking back on that movie, wouldn't you love to have the power to hear exactly what federal judges are thinking? Such an ability could come in very handy. Is judicial mind-reading the secret weapon of legendary Supreme Court advocates like Ted Olson, Carter Phillips, and the pre-robescent judicial hottie John Roberts?)
Well, what gift can you get for a man or woman who already has it all--a flowing black robe, a nice big gavel, and a lifetime appointment exercising the judicial power of the United States? For those of you who can't get beneath the robes and inside the minds of federal judges, don't despair. Article III Groupie is here to help!
Now, some of the things that judges want most are unique to their federal judicial station--and some are things you'd find it impossible to give them (unless you happen to be President Bush). Here are some examples:
--elevation to a higher court ("All I want for Christmas is a circuit court seat, a circuit court seat, a circuit court seat...");
--really good law clerks, individually wrapped for easy feeding to the Supreme Court;
--a chambers makeover, courtesy of Trading Spaces or Queer Eye, with an unlimited budget and total freedom in furniture procurement (i.e., no petty bureaucrats from the GSA forcing you to take shoddy, prisoner-made furniture--and remember, Martha Stewart doesn't report to prison until next month); and
Yes, the fashion-conscious A3G realizes that these designers haven't expanded into the realm of accessories, to say nothing of "judicial robe accessories." But a girl can dream, can't she?
(Actually, now that most judges don't wear wigs, A3G isn't quite sure what qualifies as a "judicial robe accessory." Maybe a color-coordinated gavel with clean, modern lines? She would note, however, that at least one strange reader was brought to UTR after running a Google search for judicial robe accessories.**)
Sorry, back to the subject at hand: good gifts for federal judges. As it turns out, federal judicial celebrities are more like you and me than it might at first seem: just like us, they want stuff. And the stuff they want isn't that different from what we want, which might be surprising given their dizzyingly high station.
One UTR reader drew Article III Groupie's attention to the Amazon.com "wish list" of a well-known federal judge. This led A3G to run Amazon.com "wish list searches" for several federal judges, namely, all of the nominees for Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary, all of the supplemental hotties, and all of the judges included in UTR's feeder judge rankings. Alas, most of the judges in question do not have wish lists. But a few of the judges do, and the results are quite interesting. Check out the following:
[Update: Please note that some of the judges appear to have altered or deleted their wish lists since the original publication of this post.]
Perhaps Judge Kozinski belongs to Oprah's Book Club? Or perhaps he was able to identify with this story of a European teenage boy who, years before he heads off to law school, has a torrid romance with a 40-year-old woman?
Not surprisingly, the unfathomably brilliant Judge Posner has fairly highbrow tastes: Dvorák, The Pentagon Papers, and The Manchurian Candidate (the 1962 original, of course). But one of these things is not like the others...
Do we have yet another disciple of Oprah on the federal bench? Judge Fuentes's desired book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, got a big boost from being touted by Oprah. Will Judge Fuentes be taking judicial notice of "Toltec-based cosmography" in deciding Third Circuit appeals?
Judge Leval would surely use a new Palm Vx to schedule dinner dates with his pals at One First Street, in an effort to claw his way back on to the list of top 10 feeder judges. (Judge Leval has fallen from being the #9 feeder judge, from OT 1994 to OT 2003, to the #13 feeder judge, from OT 1999 to OT 2003.)
It looks like like the liberal Judge Gertner and the conservative A3G have something in common: they both like looking at stars! But Judge Gertner gazes at stars of the astronomical variety, while A3G stalks and ogles those of the federal judicial persuasion.
Judge Gertner's expensive taste in audiovisual equipment may mark this judicial hottie as something of a limosine liberal. Well, it's easy to let criminals go free when you know they'll never get near your house! Judge Gertner and judicial husband John Reinstein, the legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts, live in a million-dollar Victorian home in tony Brookline, "a jewel of a suburb" conveniently located "[c]heek to jowl with Boston." (Judge Gertner, by the way, is not the only liberal activist judge in bed with the ACLU.)
During the week, Chief Judge Ginsburg, head of the much vaunted D.C. Circuit, hunts down the answers to thorny, headache-inducing questions of administrative law. And on the weekends, he hunts--foxes! Yes, as reflected in the "Unique Facts" section of his wish list, as well as in some of his literary picks, Chief Judge Ginsburg is an avid fox hunter. In 2001-02, he balanced his duties as a judge on the nation's most prestigious appellate court with his duties as a board member of the Rappahannock Hunt. As long as His Honor avoids hunting with the Vice President, he should be fine. (As for that other item on Chief Judge Ginsburg's wish list--sorry, Your Honor, you can't buy it on Amazon!)
Chief Judge Ginsburg's D.C. Circuit colleague, Judge Sentelle (a.k.a. "Clyde"--see "Unique Facts"), has an eclectic wish list. He appears to have an interest in presidential biography--pretty heady stuff, the sort of thing that "smart people" read. But when it comes to films, Judge Sentelle enjoys the Western--not exactly the pinnacle of cinematic sophistication. Could Sheriff Clyde be gearing up for a showdown at the Barrett Prettyman corral with that liberal judicial gunslinger, Judge Harry T. Edwards?
Over at Greedy Clerks, a heated debate is raging over the pluses and minuses of a clerkship with this judicial diva and hottie, the #2 Female Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary. One of Judge Wardlaw's defenders, in this message, notes that a clerkship with Judge Wardlaw involves fun outings to Hollywood Bowl events, Lakers games, and plays. Well, if Judge Wardlaw's Amazon.com wish is "granted"--perhaps after she "rubs the lamp" of her "genie"-us husband, the super-powerful, fabulously rich L.A. power broker Bill Wardlaw--then clerks can look forward to yet another fun activity to engage in with Her Honor!
(Yes, A3G realizes that a Kim Wardlaw other than Ninth Circuit Judge Kim Wardlaw is probably the owner of this wish list. But isn't it more fun to pretend otherwise?)
Apparently Judge Wardlaw isn't the only Article III aficionado of video games. Consider the study in contrasts that is Judge McMahon's wish list, where "Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 2," a compilation of gentle New Age music, jostles up against "Steel Battalion," a highly violent video game. In "Steel Battalion," players "operate a strategic, battle mech weapon through 12 action-packed levels, fending off dozens of adversaries while attempting to diffuse [sic] a riot that has ensued on a Pacific island ruled by a military dictatorship." Hmm... Could the uber-Christian Judge McMahon, previously praised by UTR as a "devout judicial hottie," enjoy venting her wrath through video games?
And what's on Article III Groupie's wish list, you might ask? Here are a few items, for starters: (1) a clerkship with Robing Room Report's "in" Supreme Court justice, Justice Thomas; (2) a romantic dinner at the French Laundry with Judge Richard Posner, at which the doubting Judge Posner will receive irrefutable proof of A3G's feminine identity; and (3) a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes--to wear on her date with Judge Posner, of course.
Coveting her neighbor's clerkship,
*Article III Groupie doesn't want you to lose a clerkship because of her, so she must be perfectly clear: A3G is kidding about bringing a gift to your clerkship interview (just as she was kidding about the mythical rooftop swimming pool at the Prettyboy Courthouse). Indeed, it would be inappropriate and downright tacky to bring a gift to a judicial clerkship interview; you would probably be the butt of jokes by the judge's current law clerks for a long time.
**If you really want to know what "judicial robe accessories" are, click here. (They're a lot less exciting than they sound--and that's saying something!)