Monday, December 13, 2010

Snyder on Clerkships from Horace Gray to John Roberts

Brad Snyder, University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, has posted a quite interesting and well-researched paper, also appearing in volume 71 (2010) of the Ohio State Law Journal, that, among other things, provides a very useful view of the development of the job of legal secretary/law clerk to the justices of the United States Supreme Court changed over the course of the twentieth century. It is The Judicial Genealogy (and Mythology) of John Roberts: Clerkships from Gray to Brandeis to Friendly to Roberts. Here is the abstract:
During his Supreme Court nomination hearings, John Roberts idealized and mythologized the first judge he clerked for, Second Circuit Judge Henry Friendly, as the sophisticated judge-as-umpire. Thus far on the Court, Roberts has found it difficult to live up to his Friendly ideal, particularly in several high-profile cases. This Article addresses the influence of Friendly on Roberts and judges on law clerks by examining the roots of Roberts's distinguished yet unrecognized lineage of former clerks: Louis Brandeis's clerkship with Horace Gray, Friendly's clerkship with Brandeis, and Roberts's clerkships with Friendly and Rehnquist. Labeling this lineage a judicial genealogy, this Article reorients clerkship scholarship away from clerks' influences on judges to judges' influences on clerks. It also shows how Brandeis, Friendly, and Roberts were influenced by their clerkship experiences and how they idealized their judges. By laying the clerkship experiences and career paths of Brandeis, Friendly, and Roberts side-by-side in detailed primary source accounts, this Article argues that judicial influence on clerks is more professional than ideological and that the idealization of judges and emergence of clerkships as must-have credentials contribute to a culture of judicial supremacy.
Image credits: Horace Gray; John Roberts