Every now and then, Article III Groupie goes beyond gossip-mongering and does something resembling real journalism.* Well, it's that time of year again. A3G has some juicy news to share about the moves of various law clerks -- news that may shed light on the plans of their super-important bosses, a Supreme Court justice and the likely future Chief Justice of the United States. As A3G noted back in this post, you can tell a lot about a judge's plans based upon her law clerk hiring practices. (Orin Kerr, for example, brilliantly predicted Justice O'Connor's retirement based on her failure to hire a fourth clerk.)
(A quick note to the mainstream media: Please feel free to use the information in this post in your reporting. If you do so, however, please give proper credit to this blog. E.g., "As first reported at the popular judicial gossip blog Underneath Their Robes...")
Without further ado, here's the news (which A3G will report in brief first, then expand upon later):
1. The keen Supreme Court observers over at SCOTUSblog recently raised the possibility -- see, e.g., here (Marty Lederman) and here (Tom Goldstein) -- that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor might follow "the Marshall Plan," i.e., rescind her earlier "conditional" resignation and replace it with an immediate one (as did Justice Thurgood Marshall, when the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings were delayed).
It now appears, however, that Justice O'Connor won't be pulling the ripcord of her robe anytime soon. Because of what SOC anticipates will be her workload at the Court in the weeks (or months) ahead, SOC has just rehired one of her October Term 2004 clerks, to clerk for her this Term until nomination and confirmation of her successor. This hiring suggests that Justice O'Connor will be participating in the decision of the merits cases that the Court starts hearing next month. (After all, would SOC really need a fourth clerk just to do more cert petition work?) So count on Justice O'Connor to stick around for a while, tirelessly serving the Court and the country as she has done for so many years.
2. Many UTR readers have wondered about what would happen to the clerks that Judge John G. Roberts, Jr., selected to clerk for him on the D.C. Circuit this year. A3G speculated about their fates here (see item #3), but she now has actual knowledge about what these three clerks are doing these days. Two of the 2005-06 Roberts clerks are among the cast of thousands helping Judge Roberts prepare for his confirmation hearings (which start later today). And the third Roberts clerk has been farmed out to the chambers of... Judge Janice Rogers Brown!
Judge Brown, of course, is the magnificent judicial diva who strikes fear into the heart of every legal liberal in America. She currently sits on the D.C. Circuit, the entrance foyer to One First Street, and she boasts a potent combination of a fierce intellect, strong conservative views (but perhaps on the libertarian side), and a compelling personal story (as an African-American woman whose parents were sharecroppers).
Why is it noteworthy that Judge Roberts has sent one of his clerks to cool his heels with Judge Brown -- maybe before bringing that clerk back to clerk for him at the Court in OT 2006, per A3G's prior speculation? Well, Judge Roberts's sharing a clerk with the arch-conservative Judge Brown may be seized upon by liberals as a sign -- like his alleged membership in the Federalist Society -- that John Roberts really is as conservative as they fear (but have not been able to prove). After all, it was certainly a hint of Justice Clarence Thomas's conservatism that after he was nominated to the Court, he dispatched one of his D.C. Circuit hires (Dan Himmelfarb) for training under that Jedi Master of legal conservatism, Judge J. Michael Luttig.
We already knew that John Roberts is close friends with the very conservative Mike Luttig (who was one of the groomsmen at John Roberts's wedding to Jane Sullivan Roberts). We now know that John Roberts shares his clerks with the very conservative Janice Rogers Brown. As we fancy lawyers like to say, noscitur a sociis! (For some caveats about reading too much into this, however, please keep reading.)
Okay, now that A3G has given you the basic facts, it's time for some additional commentary on them (plus some pictures of the two highly attractive clerks in question):
1. The O'Connor Clerk Hire. Right now some of you are thinking, "Please, A3G, tell us: Who was the rehired SOC clerk?" Well, perhaps Justice O'Connor is engaging in a "chambers beautification project" -- and we're not talking renovations here. The clerk returning in triumph to One First Street is none other than Tali Farimah Farhadian.**
Tali Farhadian, "a lush Persian beauty," is no stranger to the pages of this blog. Indeed, in a testament to her celebrity, countless visitors have accessed this blog by running Google searches for "Tali Farhadian," "Tali F. Farhadian," etc. Tali was previously described by UTR readers as "literally breathtaking," "a Rhodes Scholar and Supreme Court clerk whose looks can -- and regularly do -- stop traffic." And don't hate her because she's beautiful; those who know her also report that Tali is "very nice."
2. The Roberts Clerk Transfer. Before everyone jumps to conclusions about Judge Roberts sending one of his clerks to Judge Brown, A3G would like to sound a note of caution. It is not unheard of, as a matter of professional courtesy, for a judge to "share" one of his clerks with another judge on the same court, if the original judge doesn't have a pressing need for that clerk's assistance and the colleague could use the extra help. This is often done by senior judges with dramatically reduced caseloads, who allow their clerks to do work for their more active colleagues on the bench.
A3G is guessing that this is exactly what happened here. With the D.C. Circuit in recess for the summer, and with his confirmation to the Supreme Court looking reasonably likely (knock on wood), Judge Roberts probably felt that he didn't need all three of his clerks. So, because he's such a nice guy, he offered one of them to the newly confirmed Judge Brown. And Judge Brown -- who still needed clerks, with only a permanent clerk and a clerk she hired before her confirmation on board -- gratefully took him up on that offer.
Some of you might be wondering: How was George W. Hicks picked among the three Roberts clerks to work under Judge Janice Brown's heel (nicely shod in a Christian Dior logo platform mule)? Here's A3G's guess: Judge Roberts gave Judge Brown the files of the three clerks and let her decide. After reviewing the clerks' dossiers, Judge Brown selected the handsome George Hicks -- who has some conservative credentials to his name, such as membership in the Harvard Federalist Society -- over the two other clerks (including Anton Metlitsky, who is relatively liberal).
Judge Roberts's confirmation hearings will get underway in just a few hours. To all you Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee, in light of the innocuous explanation provided above for Judge Roberts sending a clerk to Judge Brown, please do not ask the nominee such dumb-ass questions as:
(a) "Are you now, or have you ever been, a friend of (pause for dramatic effect)... Janice Rogers Brown?"
(b) "Please, Judge Roberts, you can't fool us. Aren't you just the easily confirmed puppet of That Dastardly Diva, Janice Rogers Brown?"
(c) "Isn't it true that you are paying tribute to Janice Rogers Brown, having shipped off to her chambers two tons of silver, ten thousand bushels of wheat, a Harvard-trained law clerk, and a vestal virgin?"
Ridiculous! Really, people, there is no cause for alarm. Okay, fine -- Judge Roberts has a few friends and colleagues who are conservative. But since when was that a crime? And now that Judge Roberts is replacing the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the libs should be less concerned that a conservative Judge Roberts could move the Supreme Court to the right. Indeed, unless Judge Roberts is every inch as conservative as the very conservative Chief Justice Rehnquist, the Court will move in the opposite direction.
A3G believes that Judge Roberts will be about as conservative as his former boss, and she's very excited about the start of the Roberts confirmation hearings today. She is hoping for Judge Roberts's smooth and speedy confirmation to the Court. Best of luck, Judge Roberts!
* A3G has broken news in this blog before (such as the UTR exclusive scoop on the debut of The Becker-Posner Blog). As for other things she's done that resemble real journalism, she has also interviewed federal judges, published long investigative pieces, and issued celebrity profiles (of the Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2005, accessible through links collected in this post).
** Tali Farhadian, by the way, clerked for Judge Merrick B. Garland. So the Original Garlandsta now has a total of five -- yes, five -- of his clerks at the Supreme Court this Term. The others are David M. Cooper (AMK), Meaghan McLaine (DHS), Danielle Gray (SGB), and Jonathan Kravis (SGB). This must be some sort of record. Does anyone know whether a lower-court judge has ever had five of his clerks at the Supreme Court during the same Term?