It's official: Earlier today, John G. Roberts, Jr., was confirmed by the Senate to be the next Chief Justice of the United States. The vote was 78-22, with 55 Republicans, 22 Democrats, and one independent supporting confirmation. At 3:00 p.m. today, in a ceremony at the White House, Justice John Paul Stevens will swear in his new colleague on the Supreme Court. Congratulations, Chief Justice Roberts!
So, now that all that "Chief Justice" business has been sorted out, let's focus on what really maters: What about da clerks? Does anyone know which lucky men and women will soon be striding down the halls of One First Street, as the law clerks to the incoming Chief Justice Roberts?
In connection with our look ahead to the future, let's meditate for a moment on the past. Over the past few weeks, many UTR readers have inquired into the fate of the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's final class of clerks.* So Article III Groupie did some digging, and she now brings you this post, "Chief Justice Roberts: Will He Keep the Clerks?" Think of it as a sequel to her prior post, "Chief Justice Roberts: Will He Ditch the Gold Stripes?", in which she discussed whether Chief Justice Roberts will remove the gold bars on the Chief Justice's robe that were added by his predecessor.
The late Chief Justice Rehnquist's October Term 2005 clerks were Mark M. Mosier, Ann E. O'Connell, and Michael S. Passaportis (all profiled by A3G here). They started working for WHR in July 2005, and they were fortunate enough to get to know Chief Justice Rehnquist before he passed away, since he was around this past summer and in chambers every day. During the recent Rehnquist funeral ceremonies, they got the chance to listen to 33 years' worth of Rehnquist clerks reminisce about what a wonderful boss he was.
After Chief Justice Rehnquist's death, his three clerks continued to show up to work each day, doing their one-eighth share of the cert pool memos. Their ultimate fate, however, remains in limbo. With John Roberts about to enter into office as Chief Justice, the Rehnquist clerks may be learning very soon about what the future holds for them.
A3G has a suggestion of Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Why not hire one -- or two, or three -- of the late Chief Justice Rehnquist's clerks? They're all brilliant and fabulous, and they're all probably a good personality fit for you and your chambers, since they were hired by your late mentor and good friend, Chief Justice Rehnquist. Hiring some or all of them would be a nice tribute to your former boss. Maybe you'll ditch the Rehnquist stripes; but why not keep the Rehnquist clerks?
It is worth noting that the Chief Justice is entitled to five law clerks. To be sure, John G. Roberts -- who had only three law clerks and one secretary as a D.C. Circuit judge, instead of the five staff members that he was entitled to -- probably won't need or want five clerks each and every term. But for October Term 2005, his inaugural Term as Chief, perhaps he could make an exception. Perhaps JGR could hire five clerks: two or three WHR clerks, with the rest of the spots filled with people of his own choosing?
Even if they're not picked up by Chief Justice Roberts, life will go on for Ann, Mark, and Michael. Mark Mosier, a University of Chicago Hall of Famer for his baseball prowess, could return to his pro baseball career -- or he could collect a big bonus from a big law firm (like Munger, Tolles & Olson, which is cleaning up lately in high court clerk hiring). Ann O'Connell and Mike Passaportis will also land on their feet; after all, they have no shortage of admirers. See, e.g., this encomium to Ann at the dubiously named I Farted In Torts blog, and the UTR reader raves about Michael collected here (block quotation near the end).
So yes, even if they're not hired by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Rehnquist clerks will survive. But as A3G knows all too well, from her own painful experience of Supreme Court rejection, there is no substitute for a Supreme Court clerkship. So why not give these three fine folks the chance to play in the big leagues, Chief Justice Roberts, and let them stay on at One First Street?
* Ann O'Connell, Mark Mosier, and Michael Passaportis were the last set of clerks hired by Chief Justice Rehnquist. Fully aware of the seroiusness of his medical condition, he did not hire any clerks for October Term 2006 before he passed away (even though his normal hiring timetable, with law clerks hired in late June or early July, would have called for that).