Article III Groupie has a new project. If you would be interested in reading about a young lawyer's quest to join the ranks of the Elect, i.e., to secure a Supreme Court clerkship, check out the link below.
Rachel Kovner, one of Justice Scalia's hires for October Term 2007, is the daughter of a billionaire. But she "hasn't allowed her brilliance and her wealth to go to her head" (more details here). She's extremely low-key and modest -- even though some have called upon her to "find her inner diva."
For those of us who find Supreme Court clerk hiring news "more riveting than any offering on reality television" -- okay, Project Runway comes close -- this New York Times article, by Linda Greenhouse, is a must-read. Here's the key take-away:
Everyone knows that with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor,
the number of female Supreme Court justices fell by half. The talk of
the court this summer, with the arrival of the new crop of law clerks,
is that the number of female clerks has fallen even more sharply.
Just under 50 percent of new law school graduates in 2005 were women.
Yet women account for only 7 of the 37 law clerkships for the new term,
the first time the number has been in the single digits since 1994,
when there were 4,000 fewer women among the country’s new law school
graduates than there are today.
Oh, tell Article III Groupie all about it! But A3G won't engage in conspiracy-theorizing. Even the liberal justices don't blame the drop in female law clerks on anything nefarious:
In interviews, two of the justices, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer, suggested that the sharp drop in women among the clerkship ranks reflected a random variation in the applicant pool.
Here's one explanation that has been floated:
Some speculated that Justice Antonin Scalia,
who hired only two women among 28 law clerks during the last seven
years and who will have none this year, could not find enough
conservative women to meet his test of ideological purity. (Justice Clarence Thomas will also have no female clerks this year, but over the preceding six years hired 11.)
Interesting. It's certainly true that Justice Scalia hasn't hired many women over the years. Last Term's crew was all-male, as is this Term. Does anyone have any inside information on this? If so, please drop A3G a line. (If you just have speculation, no need to write; A3G can speculate as well as anyone.)
Digression: One of the two women hired by AS in the past seven years is Susan Kearns, whose NYT wedding announcement A3G dissected here. She is still at Kirkland & Ellis, where she is up for (non-equity) partnership soon. Mr. Susan Kearns -- a.k.a. Steven Engel, himself a former Kennedy clerk -- recently left Kirkland for a high-powered post as Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General at the Office of Legal Counsel. (The AAG at OLC -- a.k.a. Headmaster of the Finishing School for the Elect -- is former Thomas clerk Steven Bradbury, whose confirmation has been held up by the Senate Democrats, for political reasons unrelated to Bradbury himself. Naughty Democrats!
By the way, it's interesting to see an article on law clerk hiring coming from the keyboard of Linda Greenhouse. She tends to write less about the Elect than Supreme Court reporters for other top newspapers. And sometimes NYT articles about SCOTUS clerks are penned by other Times reporters -- like this one, by Adam Liptak.
Greenhouse drops a hint as to why she doesn't like to write about clerks that much. In today's article, she can't resist trying to pop the bubble of beliefs about the influence of the Elect at One First Street:
They do not, contrary to myth — propagated in part by law clerks
themselves — run the court. They do play a significant role in
screening new cases, though, and they help their justices in preparing
for argument and in drafting opinions.
C'mon, Linda, don't be such a party pooper!
Of course, taking the clerks down a notch is in Greenhouse's own self-interest. Among the Supreme Court press, she's widely envied for having the best access to the justices themselves (several of whom she quotes in today's Times piece). So diminishing the role played at the Court by law clerks relative to justices is self-aggrandizing for Greenhouse: she relies upon clerkly sources much less than the SCOTUS reporters who are her closest competition.
But even grumpy Greenhouse can't deny the value of the Supreme Court clerkship as a credential (literally, not just figuratively):
While their pay is a modest $63,335 for their year of service, a
Supreme Court clerkship is money in the bank: the clerks are considered
such a catch that law firms are currently paying each one they hire a
signing bonus of $200,000.
Okay, time for an announcement: Supreme Court clerk profiles are coming back! Just as she did last year, A3G will prepare a series of profiles for all current members of the Elect. (Links to the October Term 2005 profiles are collected near the end of this post, the last in the series.)
So don't delay. Please send fun facts -- and interesting tidbits of gossip -- about any current Supreme Court clerk to Article Three Groupie, by email. She will take the best of what you send her, do some poking around of her own, and deliver the results over the next few weeks (going chambers by chambers, as she did last year).
Thanks in advance for your delicious contributions, which make UTR possible. Have a fun and restful Labor Day weekend!
Article III Groupie has a huge backlog of Supreme Court clerk hiring news in her email inbox. Thanks to all of you who have sent tips her way. She's grateful for the identities of the SCOTUS clerks, as well as the fun facts about them that you've submitted.
--Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia '03/Alito): like Paolella, a former parliamentary debate whiz
--Gordon D. Todd (UVA '00/Beam): worked on Alito's confirmation while at the DOJ; married to another member of the Elect, Luttigatrix Kathryn Comerford Todd, a partner at Wiley Rein & Fielding (OT 2000/Thomas)
Congratulations, kids -- Mamma Groupie is proud of you!
Anonymous Lawyer, by Jeremy Blachman (of Anonymous Lawyer blogfame). This is a quick, fun read. Some readers -- especially those who have actually worked at law firms, unlike Blachman (who was spared that fate) -- may find the satire too over-the-top, a few plot details implausible, or the humor a little repetitive. But the book has some laugh-out-loud moments, and it's briskly plotted. In short, it's a good summer book. Enjoy it by the pool or at the beach.
Courtiers of the Marble Palace, by Todd C. Peppers. Given her obsession with Supreme Court clerks, Article 3 Groupie can't wait to start reading this one. It's worth buying just for the appendix material alone, which includes a comprehensive listing of Supreme Court clerks from 1884 to 2004 (by justice). WOW!
The Interpretation of Murder, by Jed Rubenfeld. This historical thriller, based on the life of Sigmund Freud, won't hit bookstores until September (although A3G has finagled herself a copy, 'cause she's that cool). It's not about legal subjects; but its author, the hunky Jed Rubenfeld, is a professor at Yale Law School (as is his stunning wife, Amy Chua).
Rubenfeld's publisher, Henry Holt, paid him an eye-popping advance (reportedly $800,000). It's also supporting the book with a $500,000 marketing campaign. They're betting big on this one.
Interesting factoid: Blachman and Rubenfeld share the same editor (John Sterling) at the same publisher (Henry Holt), as well as the same superstar agent (Suzanne Gluck of William Morris, the queen of literary dealmaking). If you think the legal world is small, check out publishing circles.
Last Thursday, July 6, the Supreme Court-obsessed Article III Groupie paid another visit to One First Street. A3G's last visit to the Court wasn't that long ago (June 28). But you know A3G -- she can't get enough of this stuff!
The exterior of the SCOTUS building has been transformed. With the Term completed, and the nine Justices scattered to the four winds, the Court's never-ending renovation project has picked up speed. Check out all that scaffolding:
Apparently the Court's marble facade is being inspected to prevent further occurrences of falling marble. (White Vermont marble, in case you're wondering.)
Due to the presence of the scaffolding, the main entrance to the Court is closed. To enter the building, visitors must walk around to the side entrance, on Maryland Avenue. A sign posted by that entrance claims identifies summer 2008 as the scheduled completion date for the renovation:
When the Supreme Court was first completed in 1935, it came in ahead of schedule and under budget -- an amazing feat for a federal government construction project. Of course, the Great Depression may have helped on these fronts; labor was cheap and plentiful.
Will the current SCOTUS modernization project enjoy similar success? A3G has her doubts...
Today your beloved blogress paid a visit to the Supreme Court. Yes, that's right -- Article III Groupie swung by One First Street.
Visiting the Court fills A3G with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it brings up painful memories of how her hopes of joining the Elect were dashed. On the other hand, it's always a thrill to see the justices in the flesh -- and, of course, to hobnob with their clerks.
Some random observations:
1. When the justices enter the courtroom, after the thrilling cry of "oyez, oyez," the height differentials are quite striking. Justice Ginsburg is tiny! You could smuggle her into Disneyworld in your fannypack.
2. Justice Breyer does a nice job of handing down an opinion. His voice is loud and clear, he moves through the reasoning well, and he mentions the key cases. You're reminded that he used to be a professor.
3. Justice Kennedy also acquits himself well in delivering a decision. And his job was much harder -- summarzing the bewildering tangle of opinions and judgments in the Texas redistricting case. (Of course, much of the mess is due to the way that he voted.)
4. Chief Justice Roberts -- what a hunk! He can make even Article 35 of the Vienna Convention sound sexy. A3G wouldn't mind having "Consular Relations" with the Chief!
5. The justices were pretty quiet during the handing down of opinions. There wasn't much of the cross-talk and whispering that one sees between the justices during oral argument.
Yes, Justice Thomas looked like he was dozing off; but his chair was rocking too much for him to be truly asleep. Justice Alito, the new kid on the block, looked alert. He occasionally sipped water out of a silver tumbler. Justice Scalia drank coffee out of a bright green, reflective mug -- the kind that law students get for free from BarBri reps. Every time he took a sip, the mug sent a reflected beam of green light out into the audience. Weird.
Okay, that's all for now. More details about A3G's visit, as well as lots of pictures, are available here. Still more photos are available here.