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Ketanji Brown Jackson Hires Clerks for First Supreme Court Term

May 17, 2022, 8:43 PM

The US Supreme Court’s soon-to-be newest member Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has hired a full complement of law clerks for her first term on the bench, including two who previously served in her lower court chambers.

Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate in April, will be the first Black woman to sit on the court. She was nominated by President Joe Biden to replace outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer. The 83-year-old announced in January plans to retire at the end of the current term after having served 27 years on the court.

Jackson has spent the last year as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a court that’s typically seen as a feeder court for appointments to the nation’s highest court.

Legal writer David Lat first reported that Claire Madill, Kerrel Murray, Michael Qian, and Natalie Salmanowitz will make up Jackson’s full complement of four law clerks in his blog Original Jurisdiction. Qian and Salmanowitz confirmed to Bloomberg Law the hirings.

Salmanowitz is the only Ivy League law school alum on the list, having graduated from Harvard Law School. She previously served as a law clerk for Jackson on the US District Court for the District of Columbia and clerked on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Madill is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and works as an assistant public defender in the appellate division of the Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office, according to her LinkedIn profile. She served as a clerk on the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Ninth Circuit.

Murray and Qian are both Stanford Law School alumni. Murray, who is currently an associate professor of law at Columbia Law School, also clerked for Jackson on the federal district court in D.C. and was a clerk on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Qian is an associate with Morrison & Foerster’s appellate and Supreme Court practice. He previously clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to his bio on the firm’s website.

Both Salmanowitz and Murray signed a March letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee from Jackson’s former clerks “to convey our enthusiastic and unequivocal support” for her Supreme Court nomination.

Supreme Court terms typically run from October through June and a clerkship with a justice is a competitive position, one that carries with it a duty of trust since clerks work closely with their justice in drafting opinions.

The nation’s highest court was rocked earlier this month when a draft of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico. It was the first time in the modern day history of the court that a draft copy of an opinion was released publicly ahead of a final ruling. Many court watchers have suspected a law clerk was responsible, but the identity of the person who leaked the draft is still unknown.

Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak a betrayal of the confidences and an egregious breach of trust. He has directed the marshal of the court to investigate its source.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Wheeler in Washington at lwheeler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com