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Friday, April 21, 2006 


In the past, I've made comments on here about certain judges being clerk farms. In particular, I believe I mentioned Judge J. Michael Luttig as being a feeder for clerks to Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas. Here is an interesting list of federal judges whose clerks have gone on to clerk on the Supreme Court. It's really amazing to just look at the numbers. There are a lot of judges who have sent up one or two clerks, not many that have sent up an intermediate number, and a handful who have sent up a large number. There are only seven members of the 20+ club...
Judge Calabresi - 20
Judge Tatel - 21
Judge Edwards - 22
Judge Wilkinson - 27
Judge Silberman - 30
Judge Kozinski - 34
Judge Luttig - 39
Luttig is the reigning champion of the clerk farming competition. The bulk of his clerks end up with either Scalia (14) or Thomas (16). That shouldn't be too surprising, considering how close in ideology Luttig is to those two. Also, Luttig clerked for Scalia and helped Thomas during his confirmation process. They're generally on the same page.

Kozinski is a favored feeder for Kennedy and had been for O'Connor. That's also not entirely surprising. Kozinski is not a traditional conservative judge. While I don't think he's the same as Kennedy and/or O'Connor, they all share the mark of occasionally being wild cards. Interestingly, Scalia has taken on four Kozinski clerks and Ginsburg has taken on three.

Another interesting aspect to this is that I can't see any of the four conservative judges on the list being nominated to the Supreme Court. One would think that a judge who produces fine clerks would be high on the list for the Court. Silberman and Wilkinson are both too old. That's just a timing issue that goes along with the whole Supreme Court vacancy process, though. There are many great judges that don't get a seat on the Court simply because there wasn't a vacancy while they were in their prime. Kozinski is too much of a wild card for any president to pick him. Luttig is the interesting one. He's young enough, and he's got a solid record. Apparently, he and President Bush don't get along very well. I've heard that Luttig's interview with the president didn't go well. I've heard that there is also something in the past that turned Bush against Luttig. He's likely to have a chance with the next Republican president, assuming it's not Jeb.

As far as the liberals go, Calabresi and Edwards are both too old. Tatel is also fairly old, but he's also blind. I could see some goofy president nominating Tatel just to claim that "first". But seriously, Tatel wouldn't be a bad pick for a Democrat president facing a Republican Senate. He's also interesting because he only became a judge in 1994. In that time, he's racked up impressive clerk feeder numbers. Luttig was confirmed in 1991, but the rest of the judges on the list are 80's appointees. I find this all intriguing as hell, but I'm an Article III geek.

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  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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