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How your neocofederate affirmative action network sausage gets made


Say hello to a young man who will be on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals if Trump gets a second term:

Harvard Law School students were startled on Wednesday when, during a class held over Zoom, a student brandished his gun on-screen. The student, Chance Fletcher, is the president of the HLS chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal network. Its longtime leader, Leonard Leo, advises President Donald Trump on judicial nominees; a majority of Trump’s appellate judges are members of the group.

Several of Fletcher’s classmates immediately noticed the firearm, which at first he appeared to be cleaning. One student who immediately saw the weapon told Slate Fletcher then began “cocking it back and looking inside the barrel” and “practicing to make sure it clicks.”

“He probably had the gun on-screen for at least 15 minutes,” this student said. “At one point, the barrel was facing his face. It didn’t look like he’d ever held a gun. I was worried I was going to watch my peer accidentally shoot himself. None of us had any way to know the gun was loaded or unloaded.”

This is a good summary of how this particular wing of the AMeRICan MErItOCrAcY works:

“It is known that it’s much easier for people in the Federalist Society to get prestigious clerkships—just as a matter of numbers,” a different student in Fletcher’s class said. (Because HLS keeps its clerkship record secret, Slate could not independently verify this claim, which was echoed by four other students.) “There’s so much less competition. When you have a judge appointed by Trump who’s rated Not Qualified by the American Bar Association, most moderate or left-wing students would hesitate to apply to a clerkship with them. Conservative students might lack those compunctions.”

In December, HLS’ Office of Career Services put up a post on its “clerkship blog” that it had “received zero applications” for clerkships with two Trump judges, “which seems like wasted opportunities.” Among those judges were Lawrence VanDyke, a longtime anti-LGBTQ activist, and Sarah Pitlyk, who opposes abortion, surrogacy, and fertility treatment. Both were rated “Not Qualified” by the ABA.

Another classmate of Fletcher’s agreed. “There are just so many über-conservative judges on the federal bench,” this student explained, “and proportionally not that many conservative law students who are qualified for judicial clerkships. So all the conservative students are going to get really pedigree jobs in the federal judiciary if they want to. It’s almost guaranteed. Then they’ll have this shiny new résumé line.”

Fletcher is “on a trajectory to be a potential Gorsuch clerk,” the student continued, referring to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is known for hiring hyperpartisan clerks. “And maybe a federal judge.”

And then when one of these submedicore white guys gets the Supreme Court lottery ticket, they can get Amy Chua, Akhil Amar, Neal Katyal, and maybe even the liberal Lisa Blatt to testify to their coruscating apolitical brilliance. What a country!

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