Feeder judges are judges whose clerks tend to get Supreme Court clerkships. Feeder courts have feeder judges. Ambitious law students pay a lot of attention to that, few litigants probably care.
But, because I’m a nerd for judicial inside baseball, I researched which Third Circuit judges are feeders. Answer: none, but Scirica is the closest.
Over the entire USSC careers of the 9 current Justices, 4 clerks a year each, they’ve hired a total of 15 former CA3 clerks (not counting Alito’s own former circuit clerks). But 6 of them clerked for judges no longer on the Third Circuit. Eight others clerked for judges who have since gone senior, which tends to dim one’s feeder cachet. So there has been exactly one Supreme Court clerk who came from a currently non-senior CA3 judge — Chagares sent one to Alito.
Focusing on recent hiring, the last 5 Scotus clerk-hiring cycles saw 5 former CA3 clerks hired:
- 3 Scirica (2 Alito, 1 Breyer)
- 1 Barry (Alito)
- 1 Chagares (Alito)
That’s not in the same league as to the real feeder judges and circuits. In the 2013 hiring cycle alone, there were 15 CADC clerks, 6 CA9 clerks, and 5 CA4 clerks. Again just in 2013, uber-feeders Wilkinson, Kavanaugh, and Garland had 4 each.
Surprisingly, the district court judges in Philadelphia are almost keeping pace with the circuit judges. Brody had a clerk go on to Roberts last year and Baylson has one with Breyer now. And the legendary Pollak had 3 clerks go on to Scotus clerkships.
My mother is not a lawyer, but she reads my blog, because she’s my mother. (Hi, mom.) After reading this post, she called me, concerned. She didn’t quite follow it all, but she was worried I would hurt the judges’ feelings and they’d stop giving me cases.