Law: Putting A Thumbprint on History

Supreme Court clerks help shape the nation's final judgments

"Who are you, two months out of law school, to give such a patronizing evaluation of an opinion written by a judge of a United States Court of Appeals who was appointed to his office by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate?"

Such was the question a 27-year-old novice asked himself on his first day as an aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson in 1952. His name: William Rehnquist. Whether Rehnquist was patronizing or not, his qualifications to evaluate appellate matters have been amply borne out by his subsequent career, culminating as...