Brill (Ginsburg 1996-97): According to Justice
Ginsburg’s recent biography, Notorious RBG, the
Justice can do 20 push-ups. No knees. No kidding.
Dovel (Scalia 1987-88): Scalia’s phone number
was listed in the phone book!
THE HISTORIC CASES
Each term brings cases that affect the
future of the country.
Gooding (Blackmun 1970-71): There were
several significant school integration cases, and
the “Pentagon Papers” case, but one of the most
gratifying, and one in which the law clerks played
a particularly important role in the outcome,
was Clay v. United States—the Muhammad
Ali conscientious-objector case. After oral
argument, five of the eight participating
Justices, including Justice Blackmun, voted to
affirm Ali’s conviction. I felt strongly about this
case, as did a number of my co-clerks in other
chambers, and I wrote several memos to Justice
Blackmun recommending reversal. Ultimately,
late in the term, after a number of draft opinions
had circulated among the justices, the court
unanimously reversed Ali’s conviction. I believe
the memos I wrote were influential in persuading
Justice Blackmun to change his initial vote.
Spiegel (White 1976-77): In the spring of 1976,
Gregg v. Georgia and two other cases reinstated
imposition of the death penalty under certain
conditions, after it had been suspended in 1972.
Consequently, when I clerked in the fall of 1976, the
capital punishment statutes of many states had to be
tested under Gregg v. Georgia. The “stay” application
on behalf of Gary Gilmore came to Justice White. The
experience persuaded me that I never wanted to be
involved in death penalty litigation.
Bush v. Gore was an all-hands-on-deck affair. “I recall at least one night,” says Poon, “when my three co-clerks and I walked out at 2
a.m. and into a sea of blue lights from police vehicles and barriers surrounding the court.”