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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Former SCOTUS Clerks Drafted into Arguing Abandoned Cases

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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From’s Supreme Court Justices Turn to Ex-Clerks for Unusual Role, comes the surprising news that Supreme Court litigants sometimes decide, ‘hey, you know what you were right after all, no need to waste SCOTUS’ time with this argument’ at which point SCOTUS say, ‘Whoa, not so fast, we’re the only ones who get to decide whether or not our time gets wasted and waste it we will.’

In which case some lucky aspirant gets to cut their teeth on the side nobody wanted to argue anymore. Sound like an appointment from hell? Not necessarily:

Early in the Reagan administration, Justice Department officials decided they did not want to defend a lower court ruling that had upheld the IRS’ rejection of tax-exempt status for schools and universities that discriminate on the basis of race. So the Court appointed famed civil rights attorney William Coleman Jr. — also a former high court clerk — to defend the decision in the 1983 case Bob Jones University v. United States. Coleman carried the day.

It should be noted that SCOTUS superstars Maureen Mahoney and now Chief Justice John Roberts both got their starts on such cases.

Hat tip to Simple Justice.

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