Tuesday, January 30, 2024

NASA's Preventable Disasters: Whistleblower Retaliation Caused Them All (St. Augustine Record column by Ed Slavin, 2003)

Some NASA Houston space flight engineers stopped watching Space Shuttle launches after the Challenger Disaster in 1986, knowing that NASA's lax, lazy, mendacious authoritarian management could do it again.  And they did.  It did happened again in 2003.  NASA is increasingly outsourcing our manned space programs to piratical billionaires like JEFF BEZOS and ELON MUSK.  Will they respect workplace free speech rights?  You tell me.  From St. Augustine Record: 

NASA's Preventable Disasters: Whistleblower Retaliation Caused Them All (St. Augustine Record column by Ed Slavin, 2003)

During the 1990s, I was honored to represent the first two (2) environmental whistleblowers at the NASA Johnson Space Center in their U.S. Department of Labor whistleblower actions.  

For insights into "root cause analysis" or "lessons learned," here is my February 20, 2003 St. Augustine Record column about NASA's two (2) fatal Space Shuttle disasters, made possible by NASA's hostile working environment toward protected activity and its lack of a safety culture. 

From St. Augustine Record: 

NASA's Preventable Disasters: Whistleblower Retaliation Caused Them All (St. Augustine Record column by Ed Slavin, 2003)

Letter: Shuttle whistle-blower retaliation is root cause
Edward A. Slavin Jr.
St. Augustine
Published Thursday, February 20, 2003
Editor: America's second space shuttle disaster could have been prevented if "whistle blowers" were heeded and protected from retaliation by managers.

Now NASA has appointed yet another panel to investigate itself. As the song asks, "When will they ever learn?"

NASA ignored warnings about tile failure for decades because "NASA family" and contractor employees fear to speak out about safety, fearing retaliation. The New York Times reports that NASA fired safety advisory panel members and consultants criticizing budget cuts as unsafe. The Presidential Challenger Commission found NASA's culture chilled free speech rights the same as cold temperatures chilled the O-rings. NASA ignored numerous disaster warnings and cut safety. At the Johnson Space Center, many engineers did not watch space shuttle launches since Challenger, because they feared it could happen again. The Columbia 7 deaths are sadly rooted in a dysfunctional management culture that retaliates against whistle blowers and helped cause the Challenger disaster. NASA exacts an oath of "omerta" on raising concerns.

Secretive, authoritarian managers destroy the careers of too many ethical employees like Morton Thiokol engineer Roger Boisjoly and colleagues, who warned against the O-ring problem that caused the Challenger to blow up on launch in 1986.

Johnson Space Center banned one shuttle whistle blower from Johnson Space Center property, issuing a gag order against speaking to NASA employees about concerns about toxic chemical residues in shuttle cabin air. Rather than investigating risks to shuttle astronauts from chemicals and ill-sterilized medical hardware, the Johnson Space Center medical "investigation" concentrated on "Ancestry of Quotes," identifying the source of the inspector general complaint through text analysis. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin did nothing to remedy NASA's hostile working environment. The Johnson Space Center director was later promoted to be assistant secretary of energy in charge of Department of Energy's environmental cleanup.

NASA fought Department of Labor environmental whistle-blower jurisdiction. Chilling effects continued amid its smokescreen of "hardball" delay tactics. Another NASA manager was later suspended without pay for 15 days in another whistle-blower case, but too many retaliatory managers who destroy whistle blowers' careers get promoted.

Current laws do not adequately protect whistle blowers. In 1993, the Department of Labor inspector general found delays were ordered by several secretaries of labor. Last year the third circuit federal appeals court found it "completely inexplicable" why the Department of Labor took 13 years to adjudicate one simple nuclear whistle-blower case, while the law allows 90 days.

Citing the Challenger disaster, in February 1990 the American Bar Association recommended protecting all corporate, federal, state and local government whistle blowers from discrimination, with a federal administrative remedy. In our complex technological society, too many of us are required to agree with the boss or be fired. Whistle-blower laws remain a patchwork with loopholes, though a 2002 law is a positive step to protect some corporate whistle blowers. All must be protected from workplace retaliation and guaranteed freedom of conscience.

Let's free the "mind slaves," ending what Lincoln might have called "Idolatry that practices human sacrifice."

"How Biden Beats Trump". (Chris Whipple, New York Times Opinion, January 29, 2024)

Chris Whipple's assessment is spot-on.  He's observed Joe Biden and knows Joe's strengths will get him re-elected.  I was a 17 year old college freshman Senate intern when Joe Biden was a newly-elected 30 year old Senator.  He marvelously defeated an incumbent Republican Senator whom everybody liked and nobody thought could be defeated.  But Joe Biden did defeat Caleb Boggs, a Senate elder and liberal Republican.  I still remember fondly hearing the radio newscaster on election night, November 5, 1974.  During the campaign, Joe Biden was a pro, who respected another pro. Young Joe Biden was respectful to Senator Boggs, but called him out on age, ability, and being out of touch.  From NY Times:


How Biden Beats Trump

A side view of Joe Biden, his right arm raised, speaking into a microphone.
Credit...Mark Peterson for The New York Times

Mr. Whipple is the author of “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House.”

For months, battered by President Biden’s dismal 2024 re-election polls, Democrats have been undergoing a kind of collective nervous breakdown over Mr. Biden’s re-election prospects against Donald Trump.

Following Mr. Trump’s victory in New Hampshire and with the unofficial start of the general election campaign, there is no reason for the Biden team to panic. Polls at this stage of the race are almost always a referendum on the incumbent instead of a clear choice. Still, the president’s bad polls and a stubbornly low approval rating are, or should be, more than just grist for Mr. Biden’s critics. They’re proof that his campaign needs to overhaul its message.

Joe Biden has yet to explain clearly why he’s running for a second term. I’ve reached this conclusion after speaking with more than a dozen ex-presidential campaign managers and top political strategists — indeed, I spent two years writing a book about the Biden presidency.

To articulate his vision for America, and his case for re-election, the president — whom, I should note, I am rooting for — must campaign in both poetry and prose. The poetry will be in his pledge to preserve the integrity of the Constitution and safeguard democracy, and the prose in his promise to deliver on kitchen table issues where many voters believe he’s fallen short.

As the incumbent, Mr. Biden cannot run as an outsider. But he has a strong populist case to make for a future in which ordinary Americans, and the ideals embodied in our Constitution, can prosper. This case would offer a stark and optimistic contrast to Mr. Trump, whose only allegiance is to himself and to retribution for his imagined grievances.

A recovery narrative

The top issue for many voters is the economy, and to overcome Americans’ gloomy outlook on this front, Mr. Biden needs a new narrative.

Bidenomics, a wonky recitation of his achievements (jobs created, unemployment lowered, prescription drug costs capped, etc.) has failed to resonate with voters. Nor has his slogan “finish the job” — because he has failed to define the nature of the challenges Americans face.

The president should state the obvious — that prices for many things are higher than they used to be — and then he should explain why that’s the case, admitting that his stimulus under the American Rescue Plan, though necessary at the time to rescue the economy, might have been a factor. And he should tell people what he’s going to do about it.

As a former Democratic presidential campaign manager told me, voters can deal with higher prices if they think Mr. Biden has a plan to bring them down.

There is a model for this kind of recovery narrative that fits Mr. Biden’s predicament like a glove. He may be a flawed messenger, but Bill Clinton’s memorable speech to the 2012 Democratic convention hit the marks of a Democratic president cleaning up a mess left by his predecessor. Too many Democrats have lost a skill that Mr. Clinton excelled at: understanding the economic struggles of ordinary Americans and explaining how he’ll get them to a better place.

As Barack Obama’s “secretary of explaining stuff,” at the 2012 convention, Mr. Clinton spoke plainly to voters about Mr. Obama’s record in the wake of the Great Recession: “He inherited a deeply damaged economy,” Mr. Clinton said. “He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators.”

“Now, look, here’s the challenge he faces,” Mr. Clinton told his rapt audience. “A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again.”

Here he leaned in: “But too many people do not feel it yet.”

This empathetic note, mastered by Mr. Clinton, is oddly missing so far from Mr. Biden’s campaign repertoire.

“No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years,” Mr. Clinton continued. “But he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity.” The convention hall erupted in applause. And, not incidentally, Mr. Obama cruised to re-election.

Mr. Biden doesn’t need to recruit Mr. Clinton as a surrogate; indeed, while the president may not have his predecessors’ oratorical gifts, few people are better at speaking homespun truths.

Successful presidential campaigns seldom focus on the past. (A rare exception was Mr. Trump’s 2016 race, when he promised to “Make America Great Again.”) “The last thing I said to the president before I left the White House,” says Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s former White House chief of staff, “is that he had to remember that campaigns are about the future. They’re not rewards for good behavior.”

Let Biden be Biden

The president can’t run effectively if he’s kept under wraps by overprotective advisers. Despite his age and occasional verbal stumbles, he often rises to the occasion in unscripted moments. Think of the 2023 State of the Union address, when he outwitted G.O.P. hecklers. Or more recently, when he appeared in the White House’s Roosevelt Room and blasted the Republican Congress for failing to pass funds for Ukraine and Israel.

Badgered by a reporter about allegations of corrupt foreign deals with his son Hunter, he called them “a bunch of lies.” Asked if any other Democrat could beat Mr. Trump, the president parried: “Probably 50 of them,” then added, “but I will defeat him.” It was a robust, combative performance.

The campaign will be more successful if it lets “Joe be Joe” and talk the way he actually talks.

In recent days, Mr. Biden has moved key advisers from the White House to strengthen his re-election team: Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the hard-charging, battle-tested manager of Mr. Biden’s winning 2020 race, and Mike Donilon, the president’s chief strategist, have joined the campaign. This move comes not a moment too soon.

Attacking Trump

Their challenge, and Mr. Biden’s, is to define Mr. Trump as a threat to the economy, the Constitution and much else.

As Jim Messina, who managed Mr. Obama’s winning campaign against Mitt Romney, points out: “Voters think about politics a few minutes a week and hold down multiple jobs. So if you’re a swing voter in Wisconsin, you just don’t have time to focus on this [expletive].”

Voters will need to be reminded that Mr. Trump lost more jobs than any president in history; that he enacted tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the ultrawealthy over the working class and exploded the deficit; that, other than his support for developing a vaccine, he was oblivious or worse (peddling bleach as a quack cure) when a once-in-a-century pandemic killed hundreds of thousands of Americans; that he wrenched children from their parents at the border; that he denounced fallen soldiers as suckers; and that he incited a bloody insurrection to overturn an election and still peddles the “Big Lie.”

Perhaps most important, Mr. Biden needs to drive home the MAGA threat to women’s reproductive rights. There’s plenty of fresh material to work with on the still potent issue of abortion. The Biden-Harris campaign recently put out an ad featuring a young mother who was forced to flee Texas to have an abortion. This should be just the first salvo in a relentless barrage, juxtaposing women victimized by draconian abortion laws with brags from the former president that he “got rid of Roe v. Wade.”

Even more important is underscoring what Mr. Trump has said he’ll do if given a second chance: from prosecuting his political enemies to deporting millions of people, to constructing concentration camps, to invoking the Insurrection Act to further radicalizing a deeply conservative Supreme Court that threatens to curtail American freedoms.

As for his economic agenda, what Mr. Trump promises is magic dust and the gauzy notion that he can rewind the clock to a golden age when interest rates were near zero and prices were at prepandemic lows. That economy, incidentally, was the one he inherited from Mr. Obama and then ran into the ditch.

Oh, and on another potent issue — health care — Mr. Trump has renewed his vow to repeal Obamacare without a realistic plan to replace it.

Indeed, the Biden team can’t emphasize strongly or often enough that the MAGA-dominated Republican Party has no answers or realistic plans to deal with the problems of our day. Name the challenge — reducing inflation, cutting the price of housing, providing affordable health care, ending mass shootings, stopping Vladimir Putin, slowing global warming — and the G.O.P. toolbox is empty. Even on the issue of the southern border, the MAGA-controlled House appears willing, on Mr. Trump’s command, to scuttle a potential bipartisan deal — at least in part because it would deny the former president a campaign issue. The party stands for nothing except membership in a cult of personality.

A populist for all Americans

No doubt Mr. Biden has some weak spots. For example, the impact of Israel’s war against Hamas on many progressive Democrats and young voters. Having had Israel’s back on Oct. 7, Mr. Biden should now publicly denounce its near-indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.

But consider this: While the president will get little political benefit for being sure-footed on the international stage, rallying NATO in the face of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been vital to Western democracy.

And he remains the best advocate for many issues young voters care about — like student-loan relief, reforming gun laws and mitigating climate change.

Running for re-election while simultaneously managing world crises is a herculean task. But as one senior White House adviser told me (on condition of anonymity to speak freely about White House conversations): “I keep saying to the president and to the team, yes, Ukraine is really important. Yes, the economy is really important. Yes, Israel is really important. But at the end of the day, when we think about the future of this country and the world, it’s about the president being re-elected. And so we have to put that at the top of the list, right?”

It’s time for Joe Biden to get out of the Rose Garden, shake off his script doctors and recapture the plain-spoken persona that got him elected three years ago by a margin of seven million votes.

Mr. Biden has an overwhelming populist case for re-election, and he can and should win a second term — but only if the president and his team explain what he intends to do with it, and why returning Mr. Trump to power would be a calamity for our democracy and America’s leadership role in the world.

If you were President Biden’s campaign strategist, what slogan would you suggest he adopt for his 2024 presidential campaign, and why? Opinion wants to know what message you think he needs to send to the voters he needs most. 

We may feature your comments in a future article or on our social media platforms. 

Chris Whipple is the author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency” and “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House.” He is writing a book about presidential campaign managers.

Clerks for hire: The Supreme Court recruiting race -- Supreme Court clerks are offered bonuses of up to $500,000 to join law firms.(WaPo)

To corporate lawyers' U.S. Supreme Court hires: Saint St. Thomas More asked young courtier, Richard Rich, in A Man For All Seasons, after brutal King Henry VIII named him Attorney General for Wales: "Ahh but Richard it profits a man nothing to gain the whole world if he should loose his soul… but for Wales?’" As the character Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon), a plaintiff's lawyer, asked the corporate lawyer, Leo F. Drummond (John Voight) in The Rainmaker, "Do you even remember when you first sold out?"

Watch Movies and TV Shows with character Richard Rich for free! List of  Movies: The Tudors - Season 4, The Tudors - Season 3
The Rainmaker (1997) - IMDb

From The Washington Post:

Clerks for hire: The Supreme Court recruiting race

Supreme Court clerks are offered bonuses of up to $500,000 to join law firms

(Illustration by Natalie Vineberg/The Washington Post; iStock)
11 min
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Last spring, as the Supreme Court wrapped up oral arguments for what was shaping up to be a blockbuster term, the law firm Jones Day invited a group of law clerks to dinner at Del Mar, an upscale restaurant on the D.C. waterfront.

At the dinner, the law clerks traded small talk with Jones Day lawyers over the restaurant’s Spanish seafood cuisine and bottles of wine. While jovial on its face, the Monday-night dinner was like other recruiting events in Washington: the firm and its prospective hires were vetting each other.

So goes the courtship of Supreme Court law clerks by Washington’s top law firms. Only around three dozen law clerks work for the justices during each one-year term, which means these lawyers — and their unparalleled knowledge of the court — are in incredibly high demand. Jones Day, the leader in the race to recruit and hire as many clerks as possible, announced last month that it snagged 8 law clerks, all of whom worked for conservative justices during the term that began in October 2022.

But they don’t come cheap.

During the courting process, the city’s top law firms treat this elite group of lawyers to perks like an expensive dinner at the Wharf or Penn Quarter or a trip to a baseball game or spa. The recruitment is so competitive that signing bonuses for Supreme Court law clerks have reached a new high — $500,000, according to a spokeswoman for law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Such a sum far exceeds the salaries paid to the justices — the clerks’ former bosses — who are paid slightly less than $300,000 a year.

The bonuses — alongside annual starting salaries of more than $200,000, which alone are nearly triple Americans’ median household income — are the product of a decades-long competition among elite law firms seeking any advantage they can find in arguing high-profile cases before the Supreme Court. They view the clerks’ experience and knowledge of the court as profitable assets that attract clients in a highly specialized sector of the law, and they see clerkships as effective filtering devices in identifying promising hires, according to interviews with former Supreme Court clerks, lawyers and experts.

In this way, the clerks are like many former aides across Washington — whether on Capitol Hill, at regulatory agencies or in the White House — whom law firms value because of their time spent in proximity to power and relationships with influential officials.

“Their knowledge about how the court operates is invaluable,” Neal Katyal, a former acting U.S. solicitor general who co-leads Hogan Lovells’s appellate practice, said of Supreme Court clerks. “Our clients love them.”

Law clerks return to the building after flanking the casket of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court Building on Dec. 18 in Washington. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

But some critics, including at least one former justice and some former clerks, have questioned whether the clerks are worth these enormous signing bonuses — which reached six figures in the early 2000s — and whether spending millions of dollars is sustainable.

“I was quite surprised with $75,000. I was shocked with $150,000,” said Harvard Law School professor Richard Lazarus, who studies the specialization of the Supreme Court bar. “It just boggles my mind.”

Historically diverse Supreme Court hears disproportionately from White lawyers

The half-million-dollar bonuses come as many other aspects of the court are under scrutiny. The public increasingly sees the court as a partisan institution rather than impartial arbiters of justice, polls show. And under pressure after news reports documented benefits like lavish trips that Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. received from wealthy members of the conservative legal world, the justices released an ethics code for themselves in November.

“The court has taken such a beating in terms of the public perception of the court — some of the beating is self-inflicted — but this isn’t good for the court,” Todd C. Peppers, a professor at Roanoke College who has written extensively about Supreme Court law clerks, said of the bonuses.

The beginning of the bidding war

The bidding war over Supreme Court law clerks spans decades and coincides with the rise of lawyers who specialize in arguing before the high court. In 1985, Rex E. Lee, the solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, resigned to become a partner at Sidley & Austin, a Chicago-based law firm. There, Lee and Carter G. Phillips created one of the first Supreme Court and appellate practices.

To attract more business clients and bolster the practice in the long run, Phillips hired from the pool of young lawyers who were nearing the end of their Supreme Court clerkships. Rival firms like Mayer, Brown & Platt — now known as Mayer Brown  followed suit, increasing the demand for clerks.

Phillips said in an interview that he realized convincing clerks to work in Washington for a law firm headquartered outside of the city was a “tough sell.” So, in 1987, he offered one of the first Supreme Court signing bonuses as a sweetener. It was $10,000.

Attorney Carter G. Phillips, representing generic drugmaker Mylan Pharmaceuticals, departs the Supreme Court in Washington in 2014. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

“I was just talking to two people we were recruiting, trying to come up with some way to attract them to come to Sidley and the idea of a signing bonus popped into my head,” Phillips said.

“I said, ‘Would it make a difference if we gave you a $10,000 signing bonus?’”

It worked, and the race was on. Other firms began matching or exceeding Sidley’s number. In the mid-90s, the fledgling firm Kellogg, Huber & Hansen — now known as Kellogg Hansen — raised the price to $75,000, Lazarus said, setting off an arms race that has lasted decades. The firm would go on to hire Neil M. Gorsuch, who had clerked for Justices Byron R. White and Anthony M. Kennedy from 1993 until 1994. Gorsuch worked at the firm from 1995 to 2005. He joined the court in 2017.

Even adjusted for inflation, signing bonuses are now nearly 20 times greater than the first $10,000 offer made 37 years ago.

“I did not envision the bidding war that came into being as a consequence of when I tossed an idea off the top of my head as part of a recruiting effort,” Phillips said.

‘A crash course in appellate advocacy at the highest level’

Clerks spend a year — sometimes two — learning the ins and outs of the appellate field. They screen petitions, discuss the cases with their justice, prepare questions for oral arguments, and draft orders and opinions.

Clerking is “a crash course in appellate advocacy at the highest level,” said Daniel A. Rubens, a partner at Orrick who clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2013.

Phillips said a former clerk’s knowledge of how the court operates and what clerks who review petitions are looking for enhances their ability to write successful petitions to the court.

“In a world where virtually every law firm — at least in D.C. — claims to have a Supreme Court practice, there is a continuing demand for former clerks because they understand the process,” he said. “They’ve been there.”

Law clerks also understand how the justices think and approach cases, said another former Supreme Court law clerk, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of repercussions to their work before the court.

A courtroom at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

When former clerks return to the court years later as appellate litigators, they are 16 percent more likely than non-clerks to win the vote of the justice they clerked for when deciding a case, according to a 2020 studyin Political Research Quarterly. The justices are also 14 percent more likely to side with their former clerk over one of their colleague’s former clerks, the study found.

To avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of impropriety, the high court has placed conditions on the hiring of their law clerks. They are barred from working on “any case pending before this court or in any case being considered for filing in this court” for two years.

Supreme Court, under pressure, issues ethics code specific to justices

But the clerks’ court experience still offers firms plenty of value from the start, Rubens said. Most of their work is done in lower appeals courts, which requires the same researching, writing and speaking skills as Supreme Court cases, he said.

Others say the guidance for clerks lets them discuss the court’s dynamics. “There’s nothing that stops them from talking about their evaluation of where the court may be heading and what arguments might be more useful in particular situations than in another,” said Stephen Gillers, a judicial ethics expert at New York University’s law school.

Another reason firms are so eager to hire law clerks is because of the likelihood that they will bring prestige to the firm.

Six of the nine sitting justices are former clerks. Firms want to hire and nurture these “superstar” lawyers, Lazarus, the Harvard Law professor, said.

But firms also want to bring in revenue. They do that by using clerks’ knowledge and potential to attract clients.

“That’s what the firms are about. They’re about making more money,” Lazarus said. “They’re doing it because they think it will lead to more clients. That’s the bottom line.”

‘A curious kind of solicitation’

Former Supreme Court justices have at times raised concerns about the bidding war over their law clerks.

In 1986, New York-based law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore began offering $20,000 bonuses to “beginning lawyers arriving directly from a clerkship who have clerked for at least two consecutive years in two different courts,” according to previously unreported internal court documents found in former Justice Harry Blackmun’s papers at the Library of Congress.

That March, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger sent a memo to the other justices, calling the letter “a curious kind of solicitation.” He wrote that he looked into whether the bonus violated a law prohibiting government officials and employees from receiving outside payments for performing their official duties. Burger concluded the firm’s bonus did not break the law.

A chief justice didn’t recuse in a major case. This justice disagreed.

Twenty years later, when the Supreme Court signing bonus eclipsed the nearly $200,000 salaries of federal judges, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy complained during a congressional budget hearing that it “devalues the position of the judiciary.”

“Something is wrong when a judge’s law clerk, just one or two years out of law school, has a salary greater than that of the judge or justice he or she served the year before,” Kennedy told senators the following year.

Little has changed since Kennedy’s complaint to lawmakers nearly 20 years ago as one-time signing bonuses continue to outpace the justices’ salaries.

A race with no end in sight?

Jones Day is leading the race to recruit and hire as many Supreme Court law clerks as possible. The firm has hired 22 clerks since the October 2020 term and 86 since the October 2011 term, according to the firm’s website.

Gibson Dunn in comparison, hired 12 clerks since the October 2020 term, while Kirkland & Ellis hired eight, according to a Washington Post survey.

Although a clerk who went to the Jones Day dinner said that the firm spoke to clerks who worked for every justice, all of the firm’s 2023 hires clerked for a conservative justice during the October 2022 term. The recruitment is part of a five-year trend that corresponds with the emergence of a revolving door between the firm and Trump administration officials, including Donald McGahn. McGahn worked at Jones Day both before and after he served as Trump’s first White House counsel.

“The firm’s profile is not attractive to clerks who have clerked for liberal justices and themselves have liberal views,” Gillers said. “I think this is self-selection.”

The law clerk who attended Jones Day’s recruiting dinner last year decided not to apply to work at the firm, citing other career interests.

Jones Day did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

It’s unclear if or when the bonus rate will hit a ceiling.

“As long as it’s viewed as a valuable commodity, the market is going to continue to value it in a competitive way,” Phillips said.

Dave Clarke, Caroline Anders and Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

Tobi Raji is a researcher for The Early 202, a pre-dawn newsletter about the nation’s major power centers, including the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court