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The Man That Got Away


— December 12, 2007

Obama in 1990

Judges dreamed of having Barack Obama as their clerk. Why did he turn them all down?

Among prominent federal appeals court judges in the 1990s, Barack Obama was known as “the one who got away.”

In 1990, Obama had been elected the first African-American president of Harvard Law Review, which made him a blazingly hot prospect as a law clerk for one of the top federal appeals judges, who in turn would almost certainly send him on to the Supreme Court as a clerk.

But with a remarkable certitude that still amazes his friends and elders, Obama said no to all that, preferring to return to Chicago after graduating in 1991 to resume community and civil rights work and to write a memoir that turned into a best seller, Dreams from My Father. Now, only 16 years later, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois is a top contender for the presidency of the United States.

Eschewing a possible Supreme Court clerkship could stand as Obama’s biggest “road not taken,” a decision that would have taken him on a path toward a top law firm, law school faculty, or judgeship.

Instead, Obama plunged into Illinois politics, charting a trajectory that could put him in the position of appointing Supreme Court justices as president — or, in an alternative scenario floated recently by The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin and the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, serving on the Supreme Court as Hillary Clinton’s first appointee.

Details here from Tony Mauro of Legal Times. (via How Appealing)


Obama in 1990

Judges dreamed of having Barack Obama as their clerk. Why did he turn them all down?

Among prominent federal appeals court judges in the 1990s, Barack Obama was known as “the one who got away.”

In 1990, Obama had been elected the first African-American president of Harvard Law Review, which made him a blazingly hot prospect as a law clerk for one of the top federal appeals judges, who in turn would almost certainly send him on to the Supreme Court as a clerk.

But with a remarkable certitude that still amazes his friends and elders, Obama said no to all that, preferring to return to Chicago after graduating in 1991 to resume community and civil rights work and to write a memoir that turned into a best seller, Dreams from My Father. Now, only 16 years later, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois is a top contender for the presidency of the United States.

Eschewing a possible Supreme Court clerkship could stand as Obama’s biggest “road not taken,” a decision that would have taken him on a path toward a top law firm, law school faculty, or judgeship.

Instead, Obama plunged into Illinois politics, charting a trajectory that could put him in the position of appointing Supreme Court justices as president — or, in an alternative scenario floated recently by The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin and the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, serving on the Supreme Court as Hillary Clinton’s first appointee.

Details here from Tony Mauro of Legal Times. (via How Appealing)

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