Scholars of the U.S. Supreme Court have long debated the role, and possible influence, of clerks on the decisions their Justices make. In this Paper, we take a novel approach to analyze this phenomenon. We utilize pre-oral argument bench memos sent to Justice Harry A. Blackmun from his clerks. Specifically, we use these memos to determine whether Justice Blackmun asked questions of counsel that were recommended by his clerks in the memos. Our data indicate Justice Blackmun often followed his clerks’ advice. Accordingly, we provide another important link to demonstrate Supreme Court clerks can and do affect how their Justices evaluate cases.
Timothy R. Johnson, David R. Stras, and Ryan C. Black,
Advice from the Bench (Memo): Clerk Influence on Supreme Court Oral Arguments,
98 Marq. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol98/iss1/5