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Souter retires, but his former clerks keep climbing

By Laurie Bennett

June 30, 2009 at 9:44am

A baton was passed in Washington yesterday.

On his last day on the Supreme Court, Justice David Souter swore in Julius Genachowski as new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Genachowski clerked for Souter in 1993.

Genachowski, founder of the venture fund Rock Creek Ventures and former chief of business operations at IAC/InterActiveCorp, isn’t the only former Souter clerk to join the Obama administration. Former clerk Michael S. Barr is assistant Treasury secretary. Barr previously served as special adviser to President Bill Clinton.

David Souter
David Souter

Much of Souter’s legacy may well be in his clerks, Tony Mauro wrote last month in the National Law Journal.

The 72 men and women who clerked for him are described as a “notoriously loyal tribe,” many of whom have gone on to teach law.

They are now law professors at the University of Michigan Law, Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Berkeley, George Washington, New York University, Fordham and Boston College.

One of the many former clerks who landed in academia is Kermit Roosevelt III, great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, who teaches at University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Another former clerk, Peter Rubin, now an appeals judge in Massachusetts, founded the American Constitution Society.

Although their politics vary, the clerks share one trait: a reluctance to discuss the former justice with reporters.

“He never asked us not to talk to the media after our clerkship,” Roosevelt told Mauro. “But he values his privacy, and because his clerks feel so warmly toward him, we don’t want to do anything to upset that.”

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