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Clerk and Justice: The Ties that Bind John Paul Stevens and Wiley B. Rutledge

Laura K. Ray, Widener Law

Abstract

Justice John Paul Stevens, now starting his thirty-third full term on the Supreme Court, served as law clerk to Justice Wiley B. Rutledge during the Court's 1947 Term. That experience has informed both elements of Stevens's jurisprudence and aspects of his approach to his institutional role. Like Rutledge, Stevens has written powerful opinions on issues of individual rights, the Establishment Clause, and the reach of executive power in wartime. Stevens has also, like Rutledge, been a frequent author of dissents and concurrences, choosing to express his divergences from the majority rather than to vote in silence. Within his chambers, Stevens has in many ways adopted his own clerkship experience in preference to current models. Unlike the practices of most of his colleagues, Stevens hires fewer clerks, writes his own first drafts, and shares certiorari decisionmaking with his clerks. The links between Stevens and Rutledge suggest that a Supreme Court clerkship of a single year may be a significant influence when a clerk becomes, a generation later, a Supreme Court Justice.

Suggested Citation

Laura K. Ray. "Clerk and Justice: The Ties that Bind John Paul Stevens and Wiley B. Rutledge" Connecticut Law Review 41.1 (2008).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/laura_ray/3