Two years ago, Tom Brier was a Third Circuit law clerk. Today, he’s running for a seat in Congress.
Back in 2017, Penn State news ran a profile of Brier in which he gushed about having butterflies looking forward to his clerkship for Judge Thomas Vanaskie. I blogged about it here, calling the profile “surely the least cynical thing you will read all day.”
Yesterday, Charles Thompson of PennLive profiled Brier, now 27, as he mounts a campaign for Congress. He’s running as a progressive Democrat for a seat currently held by Republican Scott Perry. (According to the article, pundits expect Pa. state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to win the Democratic nomination.) If elected, Brier would reportedly be the youngest member of Congress.
I’m only aware of one Third Circuit clerkship alum currently in Congress—Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who clerked for Judge Roth. [Update: also Utah Senator Mike Lee clerked for then-CA3-Judge Alito.] Former Becker clerk Zephyr Teachout, whom I posted about here when she ran for New York governor, ran unsuccessfully for Congress is 2016.
Brier clerked for Judge Vanaskie from 2017 to 2018, meaning his clerkship ended a few months before Vanaskie took senior status and then retired. After his clerkship, Brier joined Blank Rome in Philadelphia, when he decided to run for office to do something to help people. “So I sublet my apartment (in Philly), I moved all my stuff out, got an apartment here in Hershey, and moved back home,” he told PennLive.
Although he’s the underdog, Brier’s campaign has impressed local politicos, according to the article, and he has already raised over $200,000.
Brier told PennLive, “It’s a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come back to my hometown and run in the most important district in the most important state in the most important election of our entire lifetimes.”
UPDATE: After I tweeted this post, Fordham law professor John Collins pointed out that a second recent Third Circuit clerk also is running for Congress. Jerry Dickinson, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who clerked for Judge McKee in 2015–16, is running for Congress in Pittsburgh. He’s a progressive Democrat challenging incumbent Dem Michael Doyle, and he’s already raised almost $200,000. A nice profile is here.
[Disclosure: I made a modest contribution to both campaigns after posting this.]