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United States Supreme Court

Judge’s Law Clerks Often Affect Views

Judge’s Law Clerks Can Give Insight to Ideology

Often, little thought is given to Jude’s Law Clerks but they hold social power behind the scenes. The US Supreme Court may not be something on your daily thoughts, but the direction of the Court often factors into things that we all can or cannot do on a daily basis.

Justice Neil Gorsuch is the newest member of the Court. As such, he relies on law clerks to help mold and draft his opinions. Typically speaking, they follow his ideology, but can perhaps influence decision based upon research.

Sometimes you can draw clues about a judge’s ideological leanings from the other judges his clerks worked for. In this case, it’s worth noting that almost all of the incoming NMG clerks previously clerked for conservative stalwarts — Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, and Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit (based in New Orleans) who was very conservative and basically gutted many an injured parties’ claim when possible.

Upon information and belief, they are as follows. For the remainder of October Term 2016:

1. Mike Davis (Iowa 2004 / Gorsuch)
2. Jamil Jaffer (Chicago 2003 / E. Jones / Gorsuch)
3. Jane Kucera Nitze (Harvard 2008 / Gorsuch / Sotomayor)
4. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch / Scalia)

For October Term 2017:

1. David Feder (Harvard 2014 / Gorsuch)
2. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch / Scalia)
3. Eric Tung (Chicago 2010 / Gorsuch / Scalia)
4. Lucas Walker (Harvard 2009 / Gorsuch / Alito)

As you might expect from their law school graduation years (they’re not kiddies), these clerks have tons of other valuable work experience outside clerking. For example, several worked in the Justice Department: Jane Nitze in the Office of Legal Counsel, Jamil Jaffer in the Office of Legal Policy and the National Security Division, and Matt Owen and Eric Tung in the Solicitor General’s office as Bristow Fellows.

The group exhibits diversity on some fronts but not others. There’s only one woman, Jane Nitze, but Jamil Jaffer and Eric Tung are clerks of color.

Hopefully, they are interested in protecting victims rights and preserving causes of actions where possible.  We will see.

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