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April 24, 2014


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Really? How many of his law clerks do / have come from schools outside the schools in the US News ranking top tier?

It sounds cool to say 'super-bogus'. It's something else for actions to reflect it.


The answer is in the article to which the WSJ refers:

"Between 2009 and 2010, only two of his eight clerks came from Ivy League law schools. He tells me that he has no time for law school rankings. “I really don’t like this categorization of schools as first, second, and third-tier,” he says. “The U.S. News and World Report rankings of law schools are an abomination. The legal profession and the country would be better off if they were eliminated."

Alito also mirrored the attitudes of several commenters here in the FL about the LSAT - comments that seemingly were posted by law faculty members (and not by "scam bloggers") in defense of declining admissions standards (the “LSAT is invalid and therefore an improper measure of admission standards” argument; see also, proposals to admit students who have never taken it).

Alito’s views about the USNWR rankings are probably shared by nearly every member of every faculty at every law school unranked by USNWR - and many more as well.

Reading the article, one notes Alito’s positions throughout his career; positions on many, many issues that would also be indistinguishable from the positions favored by the majority of law profs posting on this blog.

So, I guess Alito is cool in the FL, right? Or, in more classic FL fashion, should we dispute or ignore any "inconvenient" truths?

Former Editor

@ anon

Actually, the article's reference is somewhat misleading. Ivy League and USN Top Tier are not mutually inclusive. Alito has overwhelmingly hired from top tier USN schools. If you look through his history of clerk hiring since he was elevated, you will find that only 6 of his 35 clerks came from schools outside the USN top 20. Of those six, four had clerked for him previously and only four schools are represented (3 are from BYU, one each from Pepperdine, Seton Hall, and Notre Dame).

If you want to check me, there is a Wikipedia entry that tracks all SCOTUS clerk hiring. I'm not linking it here for fear of getting caught in the spam filter but it should be pretty easy to find.



Point taken about the Ivy League and the T20, but, the subject was discounting USNWR ratings, no? To be sure, the Ivy League schools are highly rated by USNWR. The cited article was simply reflecting a different sort of bias and assumptions, IMHO.

It seemed strange to me to mock Alito for holding a view about the USNWR ratings expressed by so many here in the FL.

And, in terms of quality, are we to assume that more hiring outside the USNWR T20 would be preferable? If so, then let's compare the justices to see who is doing that!

Former Editor

@ Anon

I'm not saying that more hiring outside of the T20 would be either good or bad. I was just pointing out that despite the discounting, in practice he's still endorsing the schools that are highly ranked.

In fairness, though, he is hiring outside of the T20 more than all of his colleagues except for Thomas. Here's the comparison by justice and non-USNR T20 clerks based on the current rankings (meaning that the school's rank when the clerk was actually hired may be different):

Kagan: 0
Roberts: 1 (Georgia, #29)
Sotomayor: 1 (Brooklyn, #83)
Breyer: 2 (B.C., #36; Georgia, #29)
Kennedy: 2 (SMU, #42, Kansas, #68)
Ginsburg: 1 (Rutgers, #81/83)
Scalia: 4.5 (BYU, #36, Ohio State (x.5, shared with Powell), #31, Notre Dame (x3), #26)
Thomas: 14 (Kansas (x2), #68, Notre Dame (x2), #26, North Carolina, #31, BYU #36, Georgia (x3), #29, George Mason, #46, Rutgers-Camden, #81, Creighton, #115, Utah, #49, LSU, #72)


Can we derive a sense of the degree to which elitism guides the personal behavior of the justices from these stats? Perhaps not.

Again, however, I found it strange to mock Alito for his views about the USNWR ratings.

Perhaps the actual exercise of elitism is better tolerated when one's political beliefs are believed to coincide with an elitist's.

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