Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices
Edited by Todd C. Peppers and Artemus Ward
Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of clerking has evolved over time, from the first clerks in the late 1800s to the clerks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
In Chambers offers a variety of perspectives on the unique experience of Supreme Court clerks. Former law clerks—including Alan M. Dershowitz, Charles A. Reich, and J. Harvie Wilkinson III—write about their own clerkships, painting vivid and detailed pictures of their relationships with the justices, while other authors write about the various clerkships for a single justice, putting a justice's practice into a broader context. The book also includes essays about the first African American and first woman to hold clerkships. Sharing their insights, anecdotes, and experiences in a clear, accessible style, the contributors provide readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court.
Filled with telling anecdotes illuminating the personalities of Supreme Court justices, these essays also show how the institution of the Supreme Court law clerk has developed. Law clerks—and their employers—come through in these essays as human beings working in an extraordinary environment.
In Chambers is a worthy successor to the editors’ landmark books on law clerks in the Supreme Court. The contributors’ essays present vivid and informative depictions of the interactions between justices and clerks, and in the process they tell us a good deal that is new about the Court and its personnel. People with an interest in the Supreme Court will enjoy and learn from this valuable book.
As we learn more about how the once and still secretive Supreme Court functions, the role of law clerks becomes increasingly important in understanding the inner dynamic as well as the nuts and bolts of the judicial process on high. Todd Peppers and Artemus Ward have given us not only a fascinating view of the world of the clerks and their justices but one that will be essential to future historians working to explicate the nation’s most important tribunal.
"This new collection of essays, including some by former clerks, takes readers inside justices’ chambers for a look at clerkship life.... [T]he best parts of the book are the behind-the-scenes descriptions of life at the court: Justice Hugo Black cooking breakfast for the two clerks that lived with him during the 1953 term, Justice Byron White engaging in in-office golf putting competitions with his clerks, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist putting together NCAA betting pools and taking walks outside the court with his clerks.... [A]n impressive and comprehensive book."
Peppers and Ward have edited a wonderful collection of essays.... The essays in this volume, most of which have not been published before, highlight the important role that clerks play on the Court. They also do an extraordinary job of revealing the human face of the Court.... Highly recommended.
[A]n excellent book... It's interesting for many different reasons, not the least of which as a reminder of how much of a bastion of elitism the Court has always been. You should read it if you are interested in legal history, or in learning more about the way the justices lived and worked, or even if you want to know why the Court still sometimes acts as though it were the 19th Century.
Todd C. Peppers, Henry H. and Trudye H. Fowler Associate Professor of Public Affairs at Roanoke College and a Visiting Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, is the author of Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk. Artemus Ward, Associate Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, is the coauthor, with David Weiden, of Sorcerers’ Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court.