The Supreme Court could use some diversity. I don’t mean racial diversity, by the way (though that sort of thing is also welcome). I mean law school diversity, because right now there are only three law schools that have a presence on the bench of the Supreme Court: Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. At multiple points during his tenure, the late Justice Antonin Scalia recommended that more justices and clerks come from different top-tier law schools such that the court would better represent the nation. Granted, he said that in his dissent on Obergefell v. Hodges, where he was criticizing the Supreme Court’s tendency to act as a legislative body, and said that the Court’s judicial activism was in part problematic because the Court didn’t look like the nation, but still.
I have no expectation that Donald Trump will suddenly nominate a liberal at some point during his term, but I think it’s worth noting that he has the opportunity to nominate lawyers from other schools, and that his pool of great minds is open to other schools. As of the time of writing, Trump is considering filling Justice Scalia’s seat with one of three conservatives: Judge William Pryor (Harvard), Judge Neil Gorsuch (Harvard), and Thomas Hardiman (Georgetown). By the aforementioned metric, Judge Hardiman would be a nice break from the usual Harvard+Yale+Columbia court makeup. In the future, if Trump (or any upcoming President) finds good judges from Duke, Michigan, Stanford, or Chicago, I would highly recommend they be given a tiny bit of extra attention for the Supreme Court bench. The same applies to nominees to individual circuit and appellate courts, because it turns out that the lower courts do a lot of legal legwork.
To be clear, I have nothing wrong with Harvard Law, Yale Law, or Columbia Law – they’re consistently ranked as three of the nation’s top law schools for a reason. I also don’t think that this should be a major consideration, rather one of the minor criteria that Presidents should consider along with everything else.
The following image is sourced from FiveThirtyEight’s article on elite conservative and liberal law schools:
Even for people who aren’t particularly well-versed in the machinations of the Supreme Court, this table shows a pretty neat trend. Harvard, Yale, and Columbia produce the most Justices by a long shot, and although the University of Chicago has educated over a hundred clerks, they have zero Justices on the Court (though this is likely because Harvard Law has been around since 1817, and Chicago Law was founded in 1902, so they’re kind of behind).
Anyways, think about it. I’ve given it some thought, and I think everyone should as well. It’s not the most important component of Justice nominations to the Court, but it’s worth your time. This applies doubly if you, the reader, happens to be named to the Senate Judiciary Committee at some point in your lives.
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