Antonin Scalia (1936-2016): Legacy Includes Anti Black Sentiment and Elitism in the Selection of His Law Clerks

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. He was 79.

A quote from Reverend Thomas Merton’s book, “Seeds of Destruction (Letters to a White Liberal),” page 19-20:

We have been willing to grant the Negro rights on paper, even in the South. But the laws have been framed in such a way that in every case their execution has depended on the good will of white society, and the white man has not failed, when left to himself, to block, obstruct, or simply forget the necessary action without which the rights of the Negro cannot be enjoyed in fact. Hence, when laws have been passed, then contested, dragged through all of the courts, and finally upheld, the Negro is still in no position to benefit by them without, in each case, entering into further interminable lawsuits every time he wants to exercise a right guaranteed to him by law.

(Justice Scalia’s work on the Supreme Court fits well within this description.)

The blog has covered Justice Scalia rarely. But the blog’s attention was drawn to the Fisher v. University of Texas due to the commonality of conservative affiliations by Edward Blum (see also and Justice Scalia, who mentioned Richard Sanders’ anti black “mismatch” theory during oral argument.

The connection of these men contributed to the unfair, destructive and unjust attack on black citizens from a government forum (that is, Scalia’s “questions” during oral argument and the cultivation of the Fisher case on the docket by Blum).

(Author’s note: The sight of a high-ranking white male justice forming an argument to justify the exclusion of black students, masked by transferring black students to “slower” schools was exasperating and offensive. I will not forget this profound insult.)

Virginia Slave Law, 1705

In addition, Scalia made it clear that students from non-elite law schools could not become one of his law clerks, despite speaking at a law school that was not in his elite group–American University in Washington, D.C.


Document or Quote Blog Post
Fisher v University of Texas (2015 oral argument), pages 67-8
(Selection from blog author’s post (for context). Justice Scalia’s quote is at the end.)


It seems that only graduates of “elite” legal education institutions (Harvard, Yale, Stanford) can apply to be law clerks for Justice Antonin Scalia.  Justice  Scalia spoke at American University’s Washington College of Law in May 2009.


A student at the event asked what a student that does not go to an “elite” law school needs to do to be successful as a future practicing lawyer. Justice Scalia responded, “Just work hard and be very good.” Fair enough, I suppose.


But this advice is not at all sufficient for a non-“elite” law school graduate to be a candidate for a Supreme Court law clerk position in his chambers. Nothing trumps an “elite” law school diploma.


‘By and large’, he said, ‘I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?’