In the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999-2000 term, nearly every major contentious issue—including abortion, gay rights and school prayer—crowded the docket. But collegial relationships held throughout the onslaught among justices and their clerks, who included a young Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“You had a term in which every single, hot-button issue that could have been before the court came before the court and you had a flurry of very close 5-4 decisions, most of which involved predictable camps, and yet the law clerks as a whole had very good relationships,” recalled Amanda Tyler of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, a former clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that term.