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David Rosenbloom Comments on Serving as a Clerk to U.S. Supreme Court

May 5, 2020, Super Lawyers

Most interns are lucky to get some experience, a little mentorship and, maybe, a letter of recommendation.But a pair of World War II-era binoculars lent for stargazing or an invitation to President John F. Kennedy's inauguration are offerings reserved for the fortunate few who are selected to be clerks to U.S. Supreme Court justices.We spoke with seven D.C. attorneys who worked in the chambers of the high court over the past seven decades—from the 1950s to the 2010s. These are their stories.

. . .

H. David Rosenbloom, Caplin & Drysdale (Abe:' Fortas, 1967-68): I had one case I worked on very early in the term; Fortas was just not interested in it, and I wrote the opinion. If a case didn't really grab him, he would let the clerks run with it—write the opinions and he'd edit them.

. . .

Rosenbloom (Fortas): When the court was visited by the chief judge from the highest court in Morocco, the call went out: Can anyone help? The chief justice of Morocco only spoke French. I put up my hand, so I was in [Justice William 0.] Douglas' chambers translating between this chief judge in Morocco and Douglas. Douglas, if he could have killed me on the spot, he would have done it. He was totally dependent on me because he literally couldn't understand a word this guy was saying, and he didn't like being in that position one bit.

. . .

Rosenbloom (Fortas): We would play basketball, and were joined pretty regularly by Justice White—who twit been an athlete. Justice White was a real sharp-elbows guy, and playing basketball with this guy, you were taking your life in your hands. He was rough.

. . .

Rosenbloom (Fortas): It was the middle of the Vietnam War, and Fortas was on a direct-tine daily with President Johnson. He encouraged Johnson, at that time, to - do some things that I thought were not appropriate—such as bombing Hai Phong. I would have worried more if I thought Johnson paid him any attention.

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