Supreme Court Nominee Knows How to Pick Law Clerks

In all the coverage of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications for the Supreme Court, no one has yet mentioned what all Haverfordians will instantly know insures her confirmation: her wisdom in choosing law clerks. If you looked carefully at your TV when President Obama announced his nomination of Sotomayor back on May 26, you would have seen one of those clerks, Michael Oswalt ’00, clapping in the background, adding an even more celebratory mood to his 31st birthday.

The White House Press Office won’t allow her clerks to comment to the media before the confirmation vote but the Press Office can’t control what Mike says to his parents. Dad Mac Oswalt told The Saratogian (NY) newspaper: “I think all of her clerks found her to be a wonderful person and a great boss. She really takes the clerks under her wing and treats them like human beings.”

The confirmation hearings cap an exciting year for Michael, who graduated from Duke Law School in May, 2008, with degrees in law and divinity, two subjects not always yoked in public opinion.  But academic distinction is nothing new for Michael. As a Haverford psychology major working with Prof. Douglas Davis, he earned High Honors and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, as well as singing in various College musical groups.

A source close to Michael revealed that the only apparent difficulty he might have had in working with the US Court of Appeals Judge was a question of loyalty to higher powers. Turns out Michael is an ardent Red Sox fan while Sotomayor, from the Bronx, cheers for the Yankees.  She, of course, is known for her historic decision in 1995, ruling for Major League Baseball players over owners in the controversy which had led to the cancellation of the previous World Series.

Oswalt previously worked for US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, and a one-time Haverford Commencement speaker). If Judge Sotomayor is confirmed, his new office won’t be far from his former boss since he is beginning a two-year fellowship with a labor union. “He’s kind of blessed, like Sonia,” Michael’s dad said.”” He feels very lucky with the kind of people he’s met along the way.”

–Greg Kannerstein ’63

(With thanks to The Saratogian of May 27, 2009)

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