Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: The Next Generation (Of Feeder Judges)






Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: The Next Generation (Of Feeder Judges)

Supreme Court Clerk Hallway originalMonday marks the start of the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. If you’re expecting high drama, you’ll probably be disappointed. I agree with my colleague Joe Patrice: “Judge Neil Gorsuch will soon sit on the Supreme Court.”

Which makes this a good time to check out the state of play for Supreme Court clerk hiring. As we’ve mentioned before, SCOTUS clerk hiring can offer clues into the justices’ retirement plans — or lack thereof.

For Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 84 this past Wednesday, we’re definitely talking “lack thereof.” This should come as no surprise given her critical comments about Donald Trump — remarks that she later admitted were “ill-advised” — but RBG has no intention of letting DJT appoint her successor. As I said on Twitter, citing the classic Dreamgirlssong:

The current SCOTUS Term is October Term 2016 (i.e., 2016-2017). Justice Ginsburg has hired full clerk classes for the next three Terms (i.e., 2017-2020). Ginsburned!

Justice Breyer — at 78, the third-oldest member of the Court, after the 80-year-old Justice Kennedy — also seems intent on sticking around. He has hired complete complements of clerks through October Term 2018.

We previously shared with you the Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2017, so today we’ll go straight into the clerk hires for OT 2018 and OT 2019. If you want to see the OT 2017 clerks, they’re listed here (except for the clerk to retired Justice Souter, who I don’t think has hired his clerk yet, but is reportedly interviewing.)

Before we turn to the list, here are some observations triggered by the list of OT 2018 and OT 2019 clerks so far:

1. You’ll see a lot of longtime, top-tier feeder judges on this list, such as Judges Garland, Katzmann, Rakoff, Tatel, and Wilkinson. But note the emergence of what I’d identify as “next-generation feeders” (hereinafter “NGFs”), all in their 40s or early 50s (age indicated parenthetically): Judges Barron (49), Jackson (46-47), Nathan (44), Oetken (51), Owens (45-46), Sullivan (52), and Watford (49).

(Some caveats. First, my identification of these jurists as “next-generation feeders” is admittedly subjective and partly predictive — some of these judges haven’t fed a lot of their clerks to the Court yet, but I’m predicting that they will in the years ahead. Second, this is not an exhaustive listing of NGFs; I was just struck by how many NGFs appear in the list below, so I thought I’d use this hiring round-up as the occasion for exploring the concept. Third, I do not count Judge Kavanaugh as a next-generation feeder, even though he’s only 52, because the NGF concept includes not just age but also a “rising star” concept, and Judge Kavanaugh’s star is fully risen. Depending on the time period you select, he’s the nation’s top feeder judge, and he’s been a major feeder for years.)

2. Of these seven NGFs, all but Judge Sullivan clerked for SCOTUS themselves. In my observation, judges who clerked for the Court themselves are more likely to be feeder judges than judges who did not.

3. Republican-appointed and Federalist Society-type judges are generally better at minting SCOTUS clerks than Democrat-appointed and American Constitution Society-type judges. But it’s worth noting that of these seven NGFs, only one — Judge Sullivan — was appointed by a Republican president.

(But note my caveat above about how this list of next-generation feeders isn’t exhaustive, and some of the NGFs not on this list are Republican appointees — e.g., Judge Amul Thapar (47) and Judge Raymond Kethledge (50).)

4. These seven NGFs exhibit nice diversity, suggesting that the future leaders of the legal profession will be more diverse than those of the past. Straight white males represent a majority of federal judges (about 60 percent), but they’re a minority in this sample of seven. Four of the seven NGFs are diverse: Jackson (African-American woman), Nathan (LGBT woman), Oetken (LGBT), and Watford (African-American).

Now, on to the list. Many of these hires were previously tweeted by @SCOTUSambitions. If you want real-time information on Supreme Court clerk hiring as opposed to these periodic updates, follow that feed.

If you have any corrections to the information appearing below, or if you have any hiring news we have not yet reported, please reach out by email or text (646-820-8477). Please include the words “SCOTUS Clerk Hiring” in your email or text message, perhaps as the subject line of your email or the first words of your text, because that’s how I locate these tips in my (overwhelmed) inbox. Thanks!

OCTOBER TERM 2018 SUPREME COURT CLERK HIRES (as of March 17, 2017)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts
1. Evelyn Blacklock (Harvard 2016 / Sullivan (S.D.N.Y.) / Kavanaugh)
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Clarence Thomas
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1. Katie Barber (UVA 2015 / Brinkema (E.D. Va.) / Owens)
2. Rachel Bayefsky (Yale 2015 / Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) / Katzmann)
3. Rebecca Lee (Yale 2016 / Wilkinson / Moss (D.D.C.)
4. Matt Rubenstein (Yale 2014 / Gwin (N.D. Oh.) / Tatel)

October Term 2019:

1. Alyssa Barnard (Columbia 2015 / Nathan (S.D.N.Y.) / Katzmann)
2. Marco Basile (Harvard 2016 / Watford / Barron)
3. Susan Pelletier (Harvard 2016 / Garland)
4. Michael Qian (Stanford 2016 / Garland / Bristow)

Justice Stephen G. Breyer
1. Will Haveman (Stanford 2013 / Motz)
2. Jo-Ann Karhson (Harvard 2014 / K.B. Jackson (D.D.C.) / Kavanaugh)
3. Janine Lopez (Harvard 2014 / Garland)
4. Alec Schierenbeck (Stanford 2015 / Oetken (S.D.N.Y.) / Tatel)

Justice Samuel Alito
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice Elena Kagan
1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

Justice John Paul Stevens (retired)
1. ?

Justice David H. Souter (retired):
1. ?

Do you know about a hire not previously reported, or do you have an addition or correction to any of this info? Please share what you know by email or text (646-820-8477). Please include the words “SCOTUS Clerk Hiring” in your email or text message, as the subject line of your email or the first words of your text, because that’s how I locate these tips in my inundated inbox. Thanks!

Supreme Ambitions [Amazon (affiliate link)]

Earlier: Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: October Term 2017 Is Done; Let’s Turn To 2018
The Only Gorsuch Surprise Is That Anyone Still Expects A Surprise


DBL square headshotDavid Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law and the author of Supreme Ambitions: A Novel. He previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. You can connect with David on Twitter (@DavidLat), LinkedIn, and Facebook, and you can reach him by email at dlat@abovethelaw.com.

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Published at Fri, 17 Mar 2017 23:38:49 +0000

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