As I discussed in a previous post, I find the role of partisanship and its potential to hinder insightful debate within a law school atmosphere rather intriguing. Therefore, when I read this New York Times article about how ideology is beginning to play a primary role in the life of former Supreme Court clerks, I expected to be similarly amazed. But I wasn't.
The article discusses how Justices are likely to hire clerks who agree with their political platform, and in turn, the presidential administration is more likely to hire former clerks of Justices that support the administration's political platform. I really want to be shocked that political figures are not actively seeking diverse partisan interests to avoid problems of groupthink, but it seems like that is simply the way the political world functions. While the same may not be true in finance or medicine, in politics, you want people on your side who at least agree with your overall approach to issues, and then they can debate you on more nuanced topics of how to tackle a specific problem. I am trying to follow through with my own thought process and think about what would happen if Obama began hiring all of Scalia's former clerks, but I cannot quite grasp how significant the effect would be.
The most interesting aspect of the article, in my opinion, was the idea that some firms have a tendency to hire more former clerks of either conservative or liberal justices, suggesting that law firms have political leanings as well. The article does not imply that firms are specifically turning candidates away for their political views, but simply notes a general correlation. At the end, the author claims that while these trends may be predictable, they effectively blur the line between law and politics. I guess the real question is whether that line exists, where it falls, and how much it matters in the real world.