Harvard and Yale Ascendant: The Legal Education of the Justices from Holmes to Kagan

UCLA Law Review Discourse, Vol. 58, pp. 129-154, 2010

Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 10-30

27 Pages Posted: 28 May 2010 Last revised: 12 Jan 2011

Patrick J. Glen

Government of the United States of America - Department of Justice

Date Written: May 27, 2010

Abstract

With the nomination of Elena Kagan to be a justice of the United States Supreme Court, it is quite possible that eight of the nine justices will have graduated from only two law schools - Harvard and Yale. This article frames this development in the historical context of the legal education of those justices confirmed between 1902 and 2010. What this historical review makes clear is that the Ivy League dominance of the Supreme Court is a relatively recent occurrence whose beginnings can be traced to Antonin Scalia’s 1986 confirmation. Prior to that time, although Harvard and Yale were consistently represented among the justices, they did not constitute a majority of sitting members. In addition to this strictly historical assessment of the justices’ education, this article also attempts to ascertain why the Harvard-Yale trend has arisen, and whether this trend may have deleterious effects on the future of constitutional law. In concluding, it is the recommendation of this article that when the next vacancy arises, the President should look outside the confines of Harvard and Yale for a qualified nominee.

Keywords: Supreme Court Justices, Legal Education, Harvard / Yale

JEL Classification: K00, K40

Suggested Citation

Glen, Patrick J., Harvard and Yale Ascendant: The Legal Education of the Justices from Holmes to Kagan (May 27, 2010). UCLA Law Review Discourse, Vol. 58, pp. 129-154, 2010; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 10-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1616846

Patrick James Glen (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Department of Justice ( email )

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
United States
202-305-7232 (Phone)

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