Looks like my guide on how to become a clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court is now at least a two-part series. In Part One, I told you the importance of coming from a top-10 law school. Today’s lesson: have the right (or left) ideology.
Thomas explained his reasoning a decade ago, according to The Times: “I won’t hire clerks who have profound disagreements with me. It’s like trying to train a pig. It wastes your time, and it aggravates the pig.”
Thomas is the extreme example of a growing partisan trend in clerk picking on the Roberts court, with the conservative justices almost exclusively following Thomas’ example while liberal justices largely pick clerks who served for appeals court judges appointed by Democratic president. Justice Stephen Breyer is the only member of the court who comes close to picking an equal number of clerks from both sides.
The Times also reports this doozy: More than half of the clerks who have served on the Roberts court came from the chambers of just 10 judges. Three judges accounted for a fifth of all Supreme Court clerks. So if you clerk for Judge Merrick B. Garland in D.C. or Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit, you’re in luck!
A 2008 study found that clerks that identified themselves as Democrats increased the chances of a liberal vote by their judge in the same manner as a Republican clerk/conservative justice combination.
New Justice Elana Kagan‘s clerks for her first term, incidentally, show another popular trend – clerks who clerked for other justices. Kagan took former clerks of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Breyer and Anthony M. Kennedy.