Friday, December 11, 2015

An Essay Collection on Supreme Court Justices and Their Law Clerks

The University of Virginia Press has just published  Of Courtiers And Kings: More Stories Of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, ed. Todd C. Peppers and Clare Cushman (University of Virginia Press, 2015).
Supreme Court justices have long relied on law clerks to help process the work of the Court. Yet few outside the Court are privy to the behind-the-scenes bonds that form between justices and their clerks.

In Of Courtiers and Kings, Todd C. Peppers and Clare Cushman offer an intimate new look at the personal and professional relationships of law clerks with their justices. Going beyond the book’s widely acclaimed predecessor, In Chambers, the vignettes collected here range from reflections on how serving as clerks at the Supreme Court impacted the careers of such justices as Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, William Rehnquist, John G. Roberts Jr., and John Paul Stevens to personal recollections written by parents and children who have both served as Supreme Court clerks. While individual essays often focus on a single justice and his or her corps of clerks—including how that justice selected and utilized the clerks—taken as a whole the volume provides a macro-level view of the evolution of the role of the Supreme Court law clerk. Drawing on a rich repository of such anecdotes, insights, and experience, the volume relates in a clear and accessible style how the clerking function has changed over time and what it is like for law clerks to be witnesses to history.

Offering a rare glimpse into a normally unseen world, Of Courtiers and Kings reveals the Court’s increasing reliance on law clerks and raises important questions about the selection, utilization, and influence of law clerks.
One of the chapters is No College, No Prior Clerkship: How Jim Marsh Became Justice Jackson's Law Clerk, by John Q. Barrett, St. John's University School of Law:
In Justice Robert H. Jackson’s first four years on the Supreme Court of the United States (1941-1945), he employed, in sequence, three excellent young attorneys as his law clerks. They were, respectively, a former Harvard Law Review editor who then worked in the U.S. Department of Justice; a former Harvard Law Review president; and his successor in that law student high position. Jackson was happy with each law clerk’s work and fond of him personally.

Then, in 1947, Justice Jackson tried something different: he hired a Temple Law School graduate to be his next law clerk. This man had been a successful law student, but in a non-elite law school and, indeed, in its night school division. He had never attended college or clerked for another judge. He was “older” and married with children. His name was James Milton Marsh. This is the story of how he became, improbably, a Supreme Court law clerk.