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Law Clerks and Their Influence at the US Supreme Court: Comments on Recent Works by Peppers and Ward

  • Mark C. Miller

Abstract

There has been a fair amount of recent scholarly attention to the role and influence of law clerks at the Supreme Court of the United States. This new wave of systematic research began when Todd C. Peppers (2006) published Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk at almost exactly the same time as Artemus Ward and David L. Weiden's (2006) Sorcerers' Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court. Then Peppers and Ward (2012) teamed up to produce an edited volume, In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, in which each chapter focuses on the relationship of a specific justice and his or her clerks. Together these three works raise interesting questions about how one properly studies the role and power of law clerks at the US Supreme Court. How does one measure the influence of these temporary assistants to the justices? Should sociolegal scholars trust them to help us understand the approaches and behavior of the justices today or in the past or do they have an unrealistic and inflated view of their own contributions? This essay offers a broad overview of what scholars and journalists currently know about the role of clerks at the Supreme Court.

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