Fallout from O’Connor USSC retirement: Gasp! Not as many women clerks for the justices
Why won’t those neanderthal justices on the USSC hire me?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — Everyone knows that with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the number of female Supreme Court justices fell by half. The talk of the court this summer, with the arrival of the new crop of law clerks, is that the number of female clerks has fallen even more sharply.
Just under 50 percent of new law school graduates in 2005 were women. Yet women account for only 7 of the 37 law clerkships for the new term, the first time the number has been in the single digits since 1994, when there were 4,000 fewer women among the country’s new law school graduates than there are today.
Last year at this time, there were 14 female clerks, including one, Ann E. O’Connell, who was hired by William H. Rehnquist, the chief justice who died before the term began. His successor, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., then hired Ms. O’Connell.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who joined the court in January, hired Hannah Smith, who had clerked for him on the appeals court where he had previously served. So by the end of the term, and counting Ms. O’Connell twice, there were 16 women among the 43 law clerks hired by last term’s justices.
Some speculated that Justice Antonin Scalia, who hired only two women among 28 law clerks during the last seven years and who will have none this year, could not find enough conservative women to meet his test of ideological purity. (Justice Clarence Thomas will also have no female clerks this year, but over the preceding six years hired 11.)
I don’t have any legal experience, but I’m a woman – and that’s all that should matter, dammit! Oh wait, I do have some legal experience. I’ve tracked back to The Volokh Conpiracy law blog a few times. Does that count?
Hat tip: Betsy Newmark
Update: Ed Whelan at NRO’s Bench Memos:
1. Greenhouse states that Justice Ginsburg had taken note of the lower number of women clerks. Ginsburg ought to have a keener understanding of the consequences of nondiscriminatory merit-based selection and random variation. In her 1993 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, it was learned, much to Ginsburg’s visible embarrassment, that in her 13 years on the D.C. Circuit she had never had a single black law clerk, intern, or secretary. Out of 57 employees, zero blacks.