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Uncertainty abounds about how the Supreme Court will rule in a pair of landmark cases that test whether race can be used as a factor in placing public school students. The cases, one from Louisville, Ky., and the other from Seattle, will be argued Dec. 4. But for lawyers following the cases, the suspense will focus on Teddy Gordon, the Louisville solo practitioner who will argue against using race. His nine-page merits brief was attacked as “extremely weak” by Columbia Law School professor Michael Dorf, a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy who wondered in a Findlaw column why Gordon should be allowed to “waste everybody’s time” at argument. The Court may feel the same way. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who sides with Gordon, asked for 10 minutes of Gordon’s half-hour argument time. The Court gave Clement 15 instead, an unusual move. Top practitioners could not persuade Gordon, who has handled the case since 1999, to step aside. “It’s very complimentary when you have someone like Ted Olson offering to take over the case,” says a spokeswoman for Gordon. “But no one knows the case like Mr. Gordon.” She acknowledges Gordon “has never been inside the [Supreme Court] building,” but adds that he did buy a suit for the occasion “from the famous French designer Jacques Penney.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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