The former law clerks of Judge Neil Gorsuch have joined to make the case for his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, including an unusual advertisement featuring one of his more “moderate” clerks attesting that she is “100 percent comfortable” with him becoming a justice.
The conservative Judicial Crisis Network has bought $2 million worth of time on cable channels to air the clerk ad, which focuses solely on Jane Nitze, who also clerked for liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The network announced last month that it “expects to spend at least $10 million to confirm the next justice.”
“He is extraordinarily fair-minded,” Nitze says in the ad. “He will approach each case the same, regardless of the issue or the parties before him.” Now a lecturer at Harvard Law School, Nitze also served in the President Barack Obama Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
The fact that so many of Gorsuch’s clerks—liberal and conservative— have coalesced to support him is a key element of the campaign, seeking to reassure the full spectrum of the public that there is no need to fear how Gorsuch will turn out if confirmed.
In addition to the high-profile ad, 39 of Gorsuch’s former law clerks—all except the two who are currently clerking for Supreme Court justices—signed a joint letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee extolling Gorsuch’s temperament and intellect as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
“Our political views span the spectrum, and among us you will find differing views on how the Senate handled the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland,” the letter states. “As law clerks who have worked at his side, we know that Judge Gorsuch never resolves a case by the light of his personal view of what the law should be. Nor does he ever bend the law to reach a particular result he desires.”
In an interview Jamil Jaffer, another Gorsuch clerk, said, “It’s not just ideological diversity. We come from four different time zones and 16 different law schools.” Jaffer added, “Judges come in all varieties, not all of them awesome. I think what’s unique here is the unanimous view of Judge Gorsuch’s law clerks that he’d make a great Supreme Court justice.” Jaffer is founder of the new National Security Institute at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
By aggregating the names of all 39 former clerks, the letter also made it possible to draw a profile of Gorsuch’s clerk “family” based on internet searches and the like. Here is a look at his clerks, by the numbers:
—Twenty-five of the 39 Gorsuch clerks are currently in private practice at law firms. Seven hold government positions, and four are in academia. One former clerk is an in-house lawyer at a medical device company, and one works at the World Wildlife Fund. (The employment status of one former clerk could not be determined.)
—Eleven of the 39 clerks are female, meaning that more than two-thirds of Gorsuch’s clerks are male. By contrast, 45 percent of the current group of U.S. Supreme Court clerks are women.
—Though it is difficult to determine ethnicity from photos and names alone, it appears that the vast majority of Gorsuch’s law clerks are white.
—During his 10 years on the court, Gorsuch has sent three clerks each to Justice Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Jr., two each to Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, and one each to Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor.
—Gorsuch has been based in Denver, and 10 of his clerks now work and live there. But 11 of his clerks have settled in the nation’s capital, including two at Gorsuch’s former firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. The remainder are widely spread across the United States, and one lives in South Africa.
—Harvard Law School is by far Gorsuch’s go-to source for clerks. Eleven got their JD’s from Harvard, seven from the University of Chicago and three apiece from University of Chicago, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and Yale Law School.
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