Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Want a SCOTUS Clerkship? Better Not Go to AU...

Justice Scalia made a point of shooting down the dreams of an American University Law Student, when he explained why she would likely never have a shot at a Supreme Court clerkship. As the New York Times reports, Justice Scalia--while giving a speech on administrative law at AU Law School--gave this student a short summary of what it really takes to be a Supreme Court clerk: doing extremely well at a top law school. "You can't make a sow's ear out of a silk purse," opined Justice Scalia in explaining why he "[is] going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into."

Justice Scalia admitted, however, that one of his best clerks, now 6th Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, was a graduate of wait for it . . . "The" Ohio State University (Law School). Scalia noted, of course, that he would not have hired Jeff Sutton if he had applied directly. Instead, Judge Sutton "snuck" into his chambers after his Justice, Lewis Powell, resigned before he could begin his clerkship. Scalia's explanation speaks for itself:
"[I] wouldn’t have hired Jeff Sutton. For God’s sake, he went to Ohio State! And he’s one of the very best law clerks I ever had."
Okay. So Justice Scalia does not think it prudent to hire clerks from "non-top" law schools, but one of his best clerks ever was a graduate of (what Justice Scalia considers to be) such a law school? Am I missing something?

I understand the rationale for hiring clerks from the top law schools in the country, but holding a strict myopic view in this regard will (inevitably, I think) cause Judges to miss out on great talent.

8 comments:

  1. Just when I thought my opinion of Scalia couldn't get any lower ...

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  2. It's almost like he was deliberately pointing out how foolish his hiring standards are in a stream of conscience discussion. He shouldn't be doing that audibly as a supreme court justice...

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  3. With all due deference and in all respect to Justice Nino (my second favorite after Justice Thomas):

    Blow me.

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  4. Fred's ALIVE!?

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  5. @ 7:30

    Yea, I'm still kicking. Finals were particularly rough this go-around and I have some other things on my plate for the summer.

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  6. Further proof against TTT schools

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  7. What scalia was really saying is that the caliber of students at top law schools simply cannot be matched elsewhere. True, crappy schools do have a rare gem every once in a while, but why flip a coin when you could get a sure shot top gun?

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