The Supreme Court's Massive Blind Spot
"This term, the Supreme Court heard two cases involving the actions of
police officers during traffic stops. How the court comes down on the
two cases will likely have significant repercussions far beyond the
facts of the cases themselves. The court’s decisions could affect how
police target motorists, which motorists they target and how often, and
how they interact with motorists once they’ve pulled them over. The
decisions will likely affect how police profile motorists to look for
drug couriers, who gets detained and searched, and who has property
confiscated through civil asset forfeiture.
Here’s the problem: You’d be hard-pressed to assemble nine lawyers in
America who as a collective are further removed from the realities of
the facts of these cases than the nine justices of the Supreme Court.
The road from law school to the Supreme Court today starts at Harvard or
Yale (all nine of the current justices attended Harvard or Yale for law
school, although Ruth Bader Ginsberg later transferred to Columbia).
From there the next stop is a clerkship or two with a federal judge,
followed by a post in academia, the Justice Department, or a white shoe
law firm. Rise quickly and get noticed, and you might eventually earn
an appointment to the federal judiciary. From there you’ll want to write
strong opinions (but not too strong) that will attract the eye of court
watchers, influential ideological organizations like the Federalist
Society and the American Constitution Society, and the legal media
commentators who draw up those Supreme Court short lists.
What’s missing from that career trajectory is any real experience in criminal law...."