TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Justice Thomas Ventures Beyond Elite Schools To Fill Clerkship Posts

SCOTUS-Hiring-1-383x1024National Law Journal, Justice Thomas Ventures Beyond Elite Schools to Fill Clerkship Posts:

Justice Clarence Thomas has earned a reputation as a frequent dissenter during his 26 years on the U.S. Supreme Court bench, and when it comes to the clerks he hires, he also strays from the pack.

In a system where justices pull heavily from their own alma maters and a handful of other top schools to fill the coveted slots, Thomas casts the widest net.

He has hired from 23 different law schools since 2005, with one-third of his clerks coming from schools outside the Top 10 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings. The approach, he has said, enables him to find excellence “from all over.” ...

By contrast, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Anthony Kennedy have hired 10 percent or fewer of their clerks from law schools outside the U.S. News Top 10 since 2005.  The late Antonin Scalia hired just a single graduate from those nonelite schools during that period. ...

Over the past decade, Harvard and Yale have increased their dominance with graduates of the two law schools accounting for half of all Supreme Court law clerks. ...

Pepperdine is proud that our own Brittney Lane is clerking for Justice Thomas this term:

Pepperdine School of Law valedictorian Brittney Lane (JD ’12) will clerk for Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas during the October 2017 term. Lane, currently an associate attorney with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, previously clerked on the Sixth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal. The last Pepperdine Law graduate to clerk for the Supreme Court was Jack L. White (JD ’03), who served Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2008-2009.

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Shows how little many of the SCOTUS justices personally believe in "diversity."

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Dec 13, 2017 4:05:58 AM

Unless something changes in terms selctivity, uber- elite pedigree/acheivement requirements and diversity will remain largely mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 13, 2017 7:46:54 PM

The rumor was that Justice Clarke, a proud Texan, used to pile up all the applications for clerkships and pull at random his required allotment of clerks. On a few occasions this backfired on him and he would get the Chief or a retired justice (perhaps Reed) to loan him a clerk who could do the job.

Posted by: Bill | Dec 14, 2017 4:54:10 AM