Zephyr Teachout, former CA3 clerk and political rising star

Zephyr Teachout clerked for CA3 wonder-judge Edward Becker. I haven’t made a study of the Most Famous Former Third Circuit Clerks (yet), but I suspect at this moment in time she’s leading the pack. (Update: Or maybe not. In the comments, Peter Goldberger reminds me about “a guy named Sam Alito.”) She’s challenging Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York. It seemed like a silly idea at first — For Governor? Against Cuomo? Zephyr??? But she’s run an inspired campaign, Cuomo has not, and just this week the New York Times declined to endorse Cuomo. Jaw-dropping.

Zephyr is a friend of mine, and, inevitably, that’s CA3-related too. I interviewed with Becker during her clerkship, we had mutual friends, and we struck up a friendship. After her clerkship ended (my third year in law school) we started a legal non-profit together, along with my law school classmate David Neal, called the Fair Trial Initiative. Embarrassing photo here. After doing amazing work for FTI, she finally left for Vermont and the Howard Dean presidential campaign, and the rest is history. Suffice to say I’ve spent much of the past 3 months sporting a look of stupid incredulity, babbling to anyone who will listen “can you believe this …”

Full disclosure: I contributed some money to Zephyr’s campaign. This isn’t a political blog, and I’m not writing this to try to persuade anyone to support her. But it’s not every day that a CA3 clerk alum becomes a national political sensation, still less someone I know. So silence wouldn’t do.

I wonder what Judge Becker would have said if he were alive to see this. I’m pretty sure it would have been a good story well-told.

4 thoughts on “Zephyr Teachout, former CA3 clerk and political rising star

  1. Peter Goldberger

    Most famous former Third Circuit clerks? Heard of a guy named Sam Alito (who clerked for Judge Garth, 1975-76)?

  2. Matthew Stiegler Post author

    Indeed. Although I did say “at this moment.” And I don’t how one measures such things, but Google news hits might be one rough measure. Over the past week, Alito hits span 2 pages — Teachout hits span 8.

  3. Peter Goldberger

    Another nominee for most famous 3d Cir ex-clerk: Lisa Scottoline (Sloviter c. 1980), best-selling mystery writer (including Final Appeal (1995), a murder mystery set in the Third Circuit court, in the context of a capital habeas appeal) and newspaper humor columnist (“Chick Wit”), inter alia.

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