Supreme Court Law Clerk Certainty Amid Rampant Public Speculation

So, here we are… with one more day left for the Supreme Court to hand down any decisions remaining from this term (unless the justices extend the decision date) and arguably the four most-anticipated cases still pending a decision from the Court. And, while those of us on the outside wait and wonder, law clerks not only have a front row seat to the action, they are likely sharing the director’s chair – making last-minute tweaks and mulling over last-minute compromises. Most of the clerks will probably get no sleep this weekend, nor, if it were me, in the days following the decisions’ release as they track the news coverage and discuss the fallout among themselves.

In those four cases that already have caused so much buzz, the Supreme Court will decide the fates of affirmative action in higher education, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Defense of Marriage Act, and California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. It is the kind of high drama that is exciting to watch and yet will have very real impacts on how many of us will go about our daily lives. There have been lively protests on both sides of the issues at hand. Articles and commentary about the cases abound, with pundits and scholars rehashing the oral arguments and dissecting every raised eyebrow and vocal intonation from the Justices. Many have quietly ruminated over how their own lives will change with a Supreme Court decision that upholds current law or invalidates it. And now there is nothing left for us but to wait, saving our energy for the frenzy of the week ahead…once we know. Other than the Justices themselves, and perhaps their spouses and significant others, there are only 36 people right now who know – the Supreme Court law clerks who have at least some degree of certainty what Monday holds.

And so for now, I’m happy just to speculate as to how exactly the law clerks are spending their time while the rest of us sit and wait.


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