Inside the Supreme Court Series Concludes

Posted by The Honorable Robert Bacharach on 08/22/2014

The Federal Bar Chapter in Oklahoma City completed a nine-month series, called "Inside the Supreme Court," on August 14, 2014.  The program was a huge success, generating approximately 80 new chapter members in a period of only about nine months.

The series featured former law clerks for Supreme Court Justices from ages past (none from the recent era).  The speakers included former law clerks for Justice John Marshall Harlan, Justice Robert Jackson, Justice William Douglas, Justice Hugo Black, Justice Felix Frankfurter, Justice Abe Fortas, Justice William Brennan, Chief Justice Warren Burger, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Justice John Paul Stevens.  This cast of former law clerks included a number of widely known scholars, including Chancellor Ken Starr (Baylor University), Andy Kaufman (Harvard Law School), Norman Dorsen (NYU Law School and long-time president of the ACLU), Susan Estrich (USC Law School and Quinn Emanuel), and Bob O’Neil (former President of both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia).  In addition, the program included Justice Douglas’s widow, Cathy Douglas Stone, who appeared with a former law clerk for Justice Douglas, Judge William Alsup, who is a federal district judge in California.  The speakers also included Larry Nichols, who clerked for Chief Justice Warren before going on to head Devon Corporation, one of the largest corporations in the world (and based in Oklahoma City, the site of the FBA series).

The concept for the program was to share what these legendary justices were like — as bosses, colleagues, mentors  — in short, what they were like as people.  The program delivered — in spades.  Audiences learned about Justice Black’s sometimes obsessive fascination with tennis, Justice Fortas’s deep (and ultimately dangerous) relationship with President Johnson, the tensions between Justice Frankfurter and some of his colleagues, and the remarkable story on how Brown v. Board of Education ended up as a unanimous opinion (told by the only person in history to see the concurrence that Justice Jackson had written).

From start to finish, attendance at the nine events proved to be spectacular, finishing the series with the greatest turnout of any of the nine events.

Through the generosity of a number of law firms, as well as two chapter activity grants from the FBA, the chapter was able to execute this ambitious program, which resulted in the addition of roughly 80 new FBA members in a span of only about nine months.