How does Scalia hire liberal law clerks? Avoid “wishy-washy” clerks and find a “flint-minded liberal.”

July 31st, 2012

LAMB: But, the real issue here is though, how often have you hired a clerk that doesn’t think like you do?

SCALIA: Infrequently, but not never. The problem is, I don’t care what the policy preferences of the clerk are. In fact, other things being equal, I would prefer a clerk whose instincts, whose policy instincts are the opposite of mine.

But, I find it very hard to find a liberal clerk who is hard minded and not wishey washey who applies rules of law rather than speculating about what the best result would be and so forth and so on. That’s – that’s not what I do and I don’t want my clerks to do that.

When I have been able to find a – what should I say, a flint-minded liberal, as in the law clerk you just saw, they have been invaluable because, you know, they come at the problem from maybe at the opposite social perspective that I do.

And, they’re a check upon what a judge always has to worry most about and that is that instead of applying the law he’s really just applying his own wishes. That’s bad – bad judging.

 Scalia was referring to Lessig.