Clarence Thomas Doesn’t Care About Your Fancy Law School


Apparently Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who earned his J.D. from Yale, isn’t all that impressed with the top law schools, as determined by U.S. News & World Report. According to an Associated Press article by Brendan Farrintgon:

Thomas on Friday sharply criticized law school rankings — particularly the U.S. News and World Report annual list — during a talk with University of Florida law school students…. He said the individual, not the school that issued the degree, should be most important in determining a lawyer’s success.

“Isn’t that the antithesis of what this country is supposed to be about? Isn’t that the bias that we fought about on racial terms, or on terms of sex, or on terms of religion, etc.?” Thomas said. “My new bias, which I now embrace, is that I don’t eliminate the Ivies in hiring, but I intentionally prefer kids from regular backgrounds and regular students.”

Good for him. He’s apparently been using this “I’m not impressed by your fancy law school strategy” for some time.

Staci Zaretsky at Above the Law writes that Thomas “was displeased when he found out that his October Term 2008 clerks — who hailed from George Mason, Rutgers, George Washington, and Creighton law schools — were being referred to as “TTT,” or Third Tier Trash.” (Technically none of those law schools are third tier; all of them are first tier—albeit on the lower end of the list—except Creighton, but whatever.)

Then again, while it makes sense for him to question the U.S. News rankings—we certainly do so here at the Monthly—it’s unclear what criteria the justice is using instead.

Perhaps people who are “regular students” make better law clerks, but merely “not top-ranked” doesn’t really explain how one should be weeding out candidates. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer