(Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

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SCOTUS Twerk
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(Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:20 pm

I was surprised to find that nobody has tabulated an updated ranking of feeder judges, current through OT 2017. Given that I found these numbers helpful in my own clerkship search, I thought they'd be helpful to others as well.

These numbers are for OTs 2010 through 2018, for judges who have fed at least two clerks to the Supremes. If you're just interested in the totals, you can look at the last column. But I thought it was interesting to see the breakdowns by justice as well. I have not yet included Justice Gorsuch because so far there are no reported Gorsuch hires who whose prior clerkship was not with another justice or with Gorsuch while he was on the 10th Circuit.

Code: Select all

 Judge                  SS   RBG    EK    SB   AMK    JR    SA    AS    CT   Total
Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.)   2     0     2     1     5     11    2     5     0     28
Garland (D.C. Cir.)     0     3     9     7     2     3     0     0     0     24
Wilkinson (4th Cir.)    1     1     3     0     3     3     1     2     5     19
Sutton (6th Cir.)       2     0     1     1     2     2     4     5     1     18
Katzmann (2d Cir.)      5     7     0     4     2     0     0     0     0     18
Tatel (D.C. Cir.)       4     8     3     1     0     1     0     0     0     17
Kozinski (9th Cir.)     0     0     0     3     8     0     0     2     0     13
Griffith (D.C. Cir.)    0     0     2     1     0     3     4     0     2     12
W. Pryor (11th Cir.)    0     0     0     0     1     0     3     1     7     12
W. Fletcher (9th Cir.)  2     2     3     2     0     0     0     0     0     9
Reinhardt (9th Cir.)    4     0     2     1     2     0     0     0     0     9
O'Scannlain (9th Cir.)  0     0     0     0     1     1     2     1     3     8
Srinivasan (D.C. Cir.)  0     1     5     0     0     2     0     0     0     8
Kethledge (6th Cir.)    0     0     0     0     3     3     0     1     0     7
Posner (7th Cir.)       0     2     0     2     1     0     0     1     0     6
Sentelle (D.C. Cir.)    0     0     0     1     0     1     0     0     4     6
Boudin (1st Cir.)       0     1     1     2     0     0     0     1     0     5
J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.)  1     1     0     0     0     0     3     0     0     5
Calabresi (2d Cir.)     2     0     0     3     0     0     0     0     0     5
E. Jones (5th Cir.)     0     0     0     0     0     0     1     1     3     5
Scirica (3d Cir.)       0     1     1     1     0     0     2     0     0     5
Carnes (11th Cir.)      0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1     3     4
Randolph (D.C. Cir.)    0     1     0     0     0     2     0     1     0     4
D. Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.) 0     0     0     0     0     1     1     1     0     3
Livingston (2d Cir.)    0     1     0     0     0     1     1     0     0     3
Niemeyer (4th Cir.)     1     0     0     0     0     1     0     1     0     3
Pillard (D.C. Cir.)     1     0     0     2     0     0     0     0     0     3
Cabranes (2d Cir.)      0     0     0     0     0     1     0     0     1     2
Chagares (3d Cir.)      0     1     0     0     0     0     1     0     0     2
Colloton (8th Cir.)     0     0     0     0     0     1     0     1     0     2
Ikuta (9th Cir.)        0     0     0     0     1     0     0     1     0     2
J. Rogers (D.C. Cir.)   0     0     1     1     0     0     0     0     0     2
J. E. Smith (5th Cir.)  0     0     0     0     0     0     2     0     0     2
Watford (9th Cir.)      1     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     2
S. Williams (D.C. Cir.) 0     1     0     0     0     0     1     0     0     2


Obviously Garland and Kavanaugh are the heavy hitters. Over the last two terms, Kavanaugh has come to outpace Garland.

The top-line totals hide some of the feeding power of more recently appointed judges. So I've calculated per term numbers below, with asterisks next to judges confirmed after OT 2010:

Code: Select all

 Judge                 Clerks/term
Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.)   3.11
Garland (D.C. Cir.)     2.67
Wilkinson (4th Cir.)    2.11
Sutton (6th Cir.)       2.00
Katzmann (2d Cir.)      2.00
Tatel (D.C. Cir.)       1.89
W. Pryor (11th Cir.)    1.67
*Srinivasan (D.C. Cir.) 1.60
Kozinski (9th Cir.)     1.44
Griffith (D.C. Cir.)    1.33
W. Fletcher (9th Cir.)  1.00
Reinhardt (9th Cir.)    1.00
O'Scannlain (9th Cir.)  0.89
Posner (7th Cir.)       0.78
Kethledge (6th Cir.)    0.67
J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.)  0.67
*Pillard (D.C. Cir.)    0.60
Sentelle (D.C. Cir.)    0.56
Boudin (1st Cir.)       0.56
E. Jones (5th Cir.)     0.56
Calabresi (2d Cir.)     0.56
Scirica (3d Cir.)       0.56
Randolph (D.C. Cir.)    0.44
Carnes (11th Cir.)      0.44
D. Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.) 0.33
Niemeyer (4th Cir.)     0.33
Livingston (2d Cir.)    0.33
*Watford (9th Cir.)     0.33
*Barron (1st Cir.)      0.25
Cabranes (2d Cir.)      0.22
S. Williams (D.C. Cir.) 0.22
J. E. Smith (5th Cir.)  0.22
Ikuta (9th Cir.)        0.22
Chagares (3d Cir.)      0.22
Colloton (8th Cir.)     0.22
J. Rogers (D.C. Cir.)   0.22


This tabulation shows that Srinivasan and Pillard and, to a lesser extent, Watford and Barron, who were all appointed less than five years ago, are posting impressive numbers for their first few years on the bench. None of the other Obama appointees seem to be emerging with the same feeding power.

I also thought it would be interesting to see which judges fed to which half of the Supremes. For instance, despite Garland's placement on the Court, he hasn't fed a clerk to Alito, Scalia, or Thomas in the last nine years. Similarly, of the 28 clerks that Kavanaugh has fed in the last nine years, only 5 of them have been to the left of the Court.

Here are the per term numbers for judges feeding to the left of the Court (SS, RBG, EK, SB):

Code: Select all

 Judge                 Liberal clerks/term
Garland (D.C. Cir.)     2.11
Katzmann (2d Cir.)      1.78
Tatel (D.C. Cir.)       1.78
*Srinivasan (D.C. Cir.) 1.20
W. Fletcher (9th Cir.)  1.00
Reinhardt (9th Cir.)    0.78
*Pillard (D.C. Cir.)    0.60
Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.)   0.56
Wilkinson (4th Cir.)    0.56
Calabresi (2d Cir.)     0.56
Sutton (6th Cir.)       0.44
Kethledge (6th Cir.)    0.44
Boudin (1st Cir.)       0.44
Kozinski (9th Cir.)     0.33
Griffith (D.C. Cir.)    0.33
W. Pryor (11th Cir.)    0.33
Scirica (3d Cir.)       0.33
*Watford (9th Cir.)     0.33
*Barron (1st Cir.)      0.25


Notably, Kavanaugh and Sutton drop out of the top five. Srinivasan, Fletcher, Reinhardt, and Pillard begin to look like heavy hitters.

Here are the same numbers for the right (JR, SA, AS, CT):

Code: Select all

 Judge                 Conservative clerks/term
Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.)   2.00
Sutton (6th Cir.)       1.33
Wilkinson (4th Cir.)    1.22
W. Pryor (11th Cir.)    1.22
Griffith (D.C. Cir.)    1.00
O'Scannlain (9th Cir.)  0.78
Sentelle (D.C. Cir.)    0.56
E. Jones (5th Cir.)     0.56
Kethledge (6th Cir.)    0.44
Carnes (11th Cir.)      0.44
*Srinivasan (D.C. Cir.) 0.40
Garland (D.C. Cir.)     0.33
J.R. Brown (D.C. Cir.)  0.33
Randolph (D.C. Cir.)    0.33
D. Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.) 0.33


Kavanaugh dominates the field. Sutton, Wilkinson, Griffith, Gorsuch, and Pryor jump several spots.

Questions, corrections, requests for other cross-tabs, or quibbles with methodology are all welcome.
Last edited by SCOTUS Twerk on Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:51 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:13 am

This is terrific. Thanks. Hopefully ATL publishes a (long-delayed) update with the rest of the 2016 cohort soon.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:35 am

Very interesting. With Garland's nomination and Scalia's death, it looks like there's a lot of room for new liberal feeder judges to emerge. Do you have any guesses as to who? Srinivasan and Watford are obvious choices, but Garland's other buddies on the DC Cir. like Millett may also start picking up the slack. Or perhaps even someone like Goodwin Liu, who has already fed a couple, I think, and who has extensive connections to the liberal justices.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:Very interesting. With Garland's nomination and Scalia's death, it looks like there's a lot of room for new liberal feeder judges to emerge. Do you have any guesses as to who? Srinivasan and Watford are obvious choices, but Garland's other buddies on the DC Cir. like Millett may also start picking up the slack. Or perhaps even someone like Goodwin Liu, who has already fed a couple, I think, and who has extensive connections to the liberal justices.


Agreed that Srinivasan and Watford are emerging as new liberal feeders.

I expect that Garland would favor the D.C. Circuit. Other than Millett, I'd say keep an eye on Pillard. Also, because Garland has a clear preference for Harvard (almost half the clerks he's fed to SCOTUS are from HLS alone), he'd probably favor feeders who hire similarly. That includes Kavanaugh, Reinhardt, and Gorsuch.

As for Liu, the two clerks he's fed also had appellate clerkships with Reinhardt and Katzmann. Not sure what to make of that yet — but if we calculate his per term placement as if he were a circuit court judge, his score would be 0.4, which is on par with Watford or Posner.
Last edited by SCOTUS Twerk on Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is terrific. Thanks. Hopefully ATL publishes a (long-delayed) update with the rest of the 2016 cohort soon.


David Lat help we need you.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:07 pm

SCOTUS Twerk wrote:
Agreed that Srinivasan and Watford are quickly emerging as new liberal feeders — especially Srinivasan, who's already posting better per term numbers than Griffith, Fletcher, or Reinhardt.

I expect that Garland would favor the D.C. Circuit. Other than Millett, I'd say keep an eye on Pillard. Also, because Garland has a clear preference for Harvard (almost half the clerks he's fed to SCOTUS are from HLS alone), he'd probably favor feeders who hire similarly. That includes Kavanaugh, Reinhardt, and Gorsuch.

As for Liu, the two clerks he's fed also had appellate clerkships with Reinhardt and Katzmann. Not sure what to make of that yet — but if we calculate his per term placement as if he were a circuit court judge, his score would be 0.4, which is on par with Watford or Posner.


I doubt the justices would hire a clerk without federal appellate experience. In other words, it'd be unlikely for someone to go from Liu-->SCOTUS, or d. ct.-->Liu-->SCOTUS. But Liu may feed to other federal appellate feeders. For example, I think a few years ago he fed someone to Tatel (who he clerked for) before SCOTUS. I'm sure once you have the minimum qualification of COA then Liu probably has a lot of sway up top.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SCOTUS Twerk wrote:
Agreed that Srinivasan and Watford are quickly emerging as new liberal feeders — especially Srinivasan, who's already posting better per term numbers than Griffith, Fletcher, or Reinhardt.

I expect that Garland would favor the D.C. Circuit. Other than Millett, I'd say keep an eye on Pillard. Also, because Garland has a clear preference for Harvard (almost half the clerks he's fed to SCOTUS are from HLS alone), he'd probably favor feeders who hire similarly. That includes Kavanaugh, Reinhardt, and Gorsuch.

As for Liu, the two clerks he's fed also had appellate clerkships with Reinhardt and Katzmann. Not sure what to make of that yet — but if we calculate his per term placement as if he were a circuit court judge, his score would be 0.4, which is on par with Watford or Posner.


I doubt the justices would hire a clerk without federal appellate experience. In other words, it'd be unlikely for someone to go from Liu-->SCOTUS, or d. ct.-->Liu-->SCOTUS. But Liu may feed to other federal appellate feeders. For example, I think a few years ago he fed someone to Tatel (who he clerked for) before SCOTUS. I'm sure once you have the minimum qualification of COA then Liu probably has a lot of sway up top.


Not positive, but the way it seems to work nowadays is Liu "strongly prefers" clerks with prior appellate clerkships. So the temporality might run the other way. But either way, I think you're right that a Liu clerkship helps.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:42 am

Does anyone have the numbers for district court judges?

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Very interesting. With Garland's nomination and Scalia's death, it looks like there's a lot of room for new liberal feeder judges to emerge. Do you have any guesses as to who? Srinivasan and Watford are obvious choices, but Garland's other buddies on the DC Cir. like Millett may also start picking up the slack. Or perhaps even someone like Goodwin Liu, who has already fed a couple, I think, and who has extensive connections to the liberal justices.

It's a little surprising that no Obama appointee has fed to the Court other than Srinivasan/Watford.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:16 pm

It's a little surprising that no Obama appointee has fed to the Court other than Srinivasan/Watford.


Millet and Pillard both have clerks hired for later terms. ATL is just unusually slow with the updates...

But it's certainly true that the newer Obama appointees have not been displacing the big liberal feeders of old (Katzmann, Fletcher, Reinhardt, Tatel, etc.). Given how respected these longer-serving judges continue to be (and how productive they still are), I think they will remain highly competitive for a long time to come.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
It's a little surprising that no Obama appointee has fed to the Court other than Srinivasan/Watford.


Millet and Pillard both have clerks hired for later terms. ATL is just unusually slow with the updates...

But it's certainly true that the newer Obama appointees have not been displacing the big liberal feeders of old (Katzmann, Fletcher, Reinhardt, Tatel, etc.). Given how respected these longer-serving judges continue to be (and how productive they still are), I think they will remain highly competitive for a long time to come.

Agreed as to Katzmann and Fletcher, but Reinhardt and Tatel aren't going to be around for too much longer. And even as it stands, there's room for more liberal feeders.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
It's a little surprising that no Obama appointee has fed to the Court other than Srinivasan/Watford.


Millet and Pillard both have clerks hired for later terms. ATL is just unusually slow with the updates...

But it's certainly true that the newer Obama appointees have not been displacing the big liberal feeders of old (Katzmann, Fletcher, Reinhardt, Tatel, etc.). Given how respected these longer-serving judges continue to be (and how productive they still are), I think they will remain highly competitive for a long time to come.

Agreed as to Katzmann and Fletcher, but Reinhardt and Tatel aren't going to be around for too much longer. And even as it stands, there's room for more liberal feeders.

At the very least, they'll take senior status soon after January 20, 2017, and a judge's feeding power tends to drop after taking senior status.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:Millet and Pillard both have clerks hired for later terms. ATL is just unusually slow with the updates...

I can confirm that Pillard has fed.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:44 pm

New hires just released. OP, please update?

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/07/supreme- ... r-ot-2016/

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:New hires just released. OP, please update?

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/07/supreme- ... r-ot-2016/


I've updated the original post. Not too much movement: Judges that outperformed their term averages were Katzmann, Fletcher, Griffith, and O'Scannlain, among others. Kavanaugh only fed one clerk, which is a little surprising.

Pillard fed a clerk for the first time (to Breyer). Millett and Barron did too, if you count retired justices (to Souter and Stevens, respectively). It's probably worth keeping an eye on all three of them. They bring the list of Obama appointees that have fed to five: Srinivasan (4), Watford (2), Pillard (1), Millett (1), and Barron (1).

(We already knew a lot of the 2016 hires so some of the numbers haven't changed from the original post.)

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby lawlorbust » Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:55 pm

SCOTUS Twerk wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
SCOTUS Twerk wrote:
Agreed that Srinivasan and Watford are quickly emerging as new liberal feeders — especially Srinivasan, who's already posting better per term numbers than Griffith, Fletcher, or Reinhardt.

I expect that Garland would favor the D.C. Circuit. Other than Millett, I'd say keep an eye on Pillard. Also, because Garland has a clear preference for Harvard (almost half the clerks he's fed to SCOTUS are from HLS alone), he'd probably favor feeders who hire similarly. That includes Kavanaugh, Reinhardt, and Gorsuch.

As for Liu, the two clerks he's fed also had appellate clerkships with Reinhardt and Katzmann. Not sure what to make of that yet — but if we calculate his per term placement as if he were a circuit court judge, his score would be 0.4, which is on par with Watford or Posner.


I doubt the justices would hire a clerk without federal appellate experience. In other words, it'd be unlikely for someone to go from Liu-->SCOTUS, or d. ct.-->Liu-->SCOTUS. But Liu may feed to other federal appellate feeders. For example, I think a few years ago he fed someone to Tatel (who he clerked for) before SCOTUS. I'm sure once you have the minimum qualification of COA then Liu probably has a lot of sway up top.


Not positive, but the way it seems to work nowadays is Liu "strongly prefers" clerks with prior appellate clerkships. So the temporality might run the other way. But either way, I think you're right that a Liu clerkship helps.


Another thing to consider throughout -- that you do allude to when talking about Scalia's passing -- is that there might not be "nine" courts, but there's certainly more than two. Liu is a particularly good example: I'd wager that, stipulating he'll have considerable placing power, it'd be to the Sotomayor-Ginsburg wing but less so Breyer-Kagan-Garland.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:51 pm

about half of the 2017 roster just in as well:

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/07/supreme- ... term-2017/

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 29, 2016 9:44 am

Any ideas how a district court judge in Kentucky became the go to district court feeder on the right side? By my count, he's fed 4 in just the last 2 terms.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:about half of the 2017 roster just in as well:

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/07/supreme- ... term-2017/

Praise! I've updated the original post, now current through OT 2017. Scalia clerks that were shifted to OT 2017 were not double counted. Some further trends:

    Kavanaugh is already dominating OT 2017, with four clerks of the reported hires thus far (although half are Scalia hires for OT 2016). He continues to send an average of 3 clerks a term to the Court, even when disregarding the Scalia rehires.

    Griffith has had a strong couple of terms, with two for OT 2016 and another already for OT 2017. Over the last four terms he has fed more clerks than Wilkinson or Kozinski, at an average of 1.75 clerks a term.

    Srinivasan continues to feed strongly, with two hires already reported for OT 2017 (one to Ginsburg, for the first time). Over the last four terms he has now fed more clerks than Wilkinson, Reinhardt, or Fletcher.

    On the district court level, Rakoff dominates, sending 1.75 clerks/term to the Court — but his arrangement with Katzmann muddies the picture there. Boasberg and Thapar are feeding at the same rate as Reinhardt or Fletcher.
I've also cleaned up the charts in the original post so they're easier to read.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any ideas how a district court judge in Kentucky became the go to district court feeder on the right side? By my count, he's fed 4 in just the last 2 terms.


Someone else will have to comment on "how" but the total is actually five (and to five different justices: Scalia, Sotomayor, Kennedy, Thomas*, and the Chief).

*The future Thomas clerk was one of the four who were originally hired by Justice Scalia but were later hired by other justices after Justice Scalia died.

Hale87
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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Hale87 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:01 pm


SCOTUS Twerk
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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Sun Dec 25, 2016 3:05 am

Hale87 wrote:http://abovethelaw.com/2016/12/supreme-court-clerk-hiring-watch-october-term-2017-is-filling-up-fast/

Update on OT 2017 clerks


Great! I've updated the original post. Some other notes:

Pillard fed two clerks this term, a strong showing. She has fed an average of 0.75 clerks a term, which is on par with Posner or Kethledge. She has outpaced Watford to become the second-most prolific feeder of the Obama appointees.

Barron has fed his first clerk. He is feeding at an average rate of 0.333 clerks a term, which is on par with Watford or Niemeyer.

Pryor fed three clerks this term — two to Thomas and one to Alito. No surprise — over the past eight years, Pryor has fed 90% of his clerks to only two Justices: Alito and Thomas.

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:20 am


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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby SCOTUS Twerk » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:51 pm

Based on the most recent post from ATL, I've update the original post to include about half of the OT 2018 hires.

http://abovethelaw.com/2017/07/supreme- ... erks/?rf=1

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Re: (Updated) Feeder Judge Rankings

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:53 pm

Mods, can you sticky this thread? This is good content.

Does anyone have predictions on what effect a Kennedy retirement would have?




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