Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More on Supreme Court clerks

Tom Smith on the Supreme Court clerk gender gap and interview process:
I would call the selection process for Supreme Court clerks a little, ah, imperfect. At a minimum, an IQ test, it ain't. I finally decided to apply for a Sup Ct clerkship a year late; it turned out Justice White had an opening. I think he had eaten a clerk and so had a place to fill. I went in to interview, and it went something like this. JW: "I see a lot of philosophy on your resume. You don't really like philosophy, do you?" At this point, the intelligent thing to have said would have been, "oh no, I hate philosophy; what I really like is [football? rodeo? fly fishing? cow punching? in any event, some manly activity]" But the little demon that has accompanied me through my sometimes mildly disappointing but all things considered fabulous life whispered in my ear words to the effect of "tell the old coot to go f@#$ himself," and so I said something like, "yes I like philosophy, as you can see from my resume." I grant, this was an intelligence test of sorts, and one that I failed, and I have often regretted not repudiating my main intellectual passion at that stage of my life, the whole business of being true to yourself being rather overrated. But, if it was an IQ test, it was hardly an objective, scientific sort of test. It was just a test to see if I might really be a philistine and so qualified. In fact, I was not, and I would have been a medi[o]cre clerk, though I have heard those are hardly uncommon on the Court. So perhaps the question should be, how many of the smart Supreme Court clerks are men, and how many women? For all we know, the dumber clerks are all men.
Is part of the gap due to a bias against eggheads in favor of macho schmoozers?
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