13 February 2010

Third Tier Trash?

I would not be aware of the term "Third Tier Trash," or the initials TTT for same, had Justice Clarence Thomas not used both in the course of defending his law clerks from charges of unspecified bloggers, in remarks to students at the University of Florida.

There is a marked bias in favor of Ivy League law schools in the hiring of law clerks at SCOTUS. One of the Gators remarked about this in a Q-and-A session with the Justice, and Thomas didn't deny it: "Eight of the nine of us [justices] are from the Ivy leagues, so it’s natural that you go back to the Ivy Leagues… I don’t believe they have a monopoly on intelligence. I also don’t believe they have a monopoly on the best kids to clerk." Thomas himself graduated from Yale Law.

You can see and listen to the whole exchange here. Go to about the 37:50 mark of that clip to listen to the part of the proceedings that I have in mind.

Anyway, Thomas was saying that sometimes he goes along with this general preference for Ivy League clerks ("we've let that happen to ourselves"), but that in some years he hasn't. And that in years when he has had non-Ivy clerks, he has been attacked for hiring TTTs. Unfortunate if true. The reason I mention it, though, is that the incident says something about the difficulties of defending one's self from charges made on the blogosphere. To non-blogosphere folks I'm sure this had not penetrated. Indeed, even among bloggers who have a background in the law (like Yours Truly) there are many who had never heard the expression TTT and wouldn't have known what it meant had not Thomas thought it merited such a public rejoinder.

Ah, life.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.