You are here

Of Courtiers and Princes

Stories of Lower Court Clerks and Their Judges
Edited by Todd C. Peppers

BUY Cloth · 352 pp. · 6.13 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813944593 · $39.95 · Feb 2021
BUY Ebook · 352 pp. · ISBN 9780813944609 · $39.95 · Feb 2021

Praise for In Chambers:

"This new collection of essays, including some by former clerks, takes readers inside justices’ chambers for a look at clerkship life.... [T]he best parts of the book are the behind-the-scenes descriptions of life at the court."— Associated Press

"An excellent book... It’s interesting for many different reasons, not the least of which as a reminder of how much of a bastion of elitism the Court has always been."— Atlantic Monthly

In his earlier books, In Chambers and Of Courtiers and Kings, Todd C. Peppers provided an insider’s view of the Supreme Court from the perspective of the clerks who worked closely with some of its most important justices. With Of Courtiers and Princes, he concludes the trilogy by examining the understudied yet equally fascinating role of lower court clerks—encompassing pioneering women and minorities.

Drawing on contributions from former law clerks and judicial scholars—including an essay by Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the book provides an inside look at the professional and personal bonds that form between lower court judges and their clerks. While the individual essays often focus on a single judge and his or her corps of law clerks, including their selection process, contributions, and even influence, the book as a whole provides a macro-level view of the law clerk’s role in the rapidly changing world of lower federal and state courts, thereby offering an unusual yet crucial perspective on the inner workings of our judicial system.


Combining accounts of the personalities and jurisprudence of important lower court judges with tales of how they organized their offices and worked with their law clerks, these essays give us valuable "inside the chambers" insights into how good judges actually get their important work done.

Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School, author of Taking Back the Constitution: Activist Judges and the Next Age of American Law

Of Courtier and Princes is an outstanding collection of essays that provide rich contextual details about the inner workings of judges and their law clerks. As the third book in the all-important series on judicial law clerks, this volume turns its focus away from the U.S. Supreme Court and to lower federal and state court law clerks. The scope and depth of the volume is impressive as each essay provides a unique glimpse into the important role and contributions judicial law clerks and their judges make in the lower courts from breaking racial and gender barriers to the personal connections law clerks and judges have with one another.

Jennifer Bowie, University of Richmond, co-author of The View from the Bench and Chambers: Examining Judicial Process and Decision Making on the U.S. Courts of Appeals

The essays in Todd Peppers’ impressive book present rich accounts of the roles of law clerks in courts other than the Supreme Court. Just as important, they provide a wealth of information about judges as people and about how they do their work. Anyone who is interested in the courts will learn a good deal from the book.

Lawrence Baum, Ohio State University, author of Ideology in the Supreme Court

In his third edited volume on the role of law clerks, Todd Peppers shifts the focus to lower courts: the result is an impressive collection of essays on the experiences of former clerks who worked closely with twenty judicial legends. These accounts offer in-depth observations on clerk selection processes and day-to-day routines and reflect on institutional norms and practices during a time of increased workload and higher profile cases. Several contributions present first-hand perspectives on the remarkable skill and fortitude of women and minority judges as they navigated through professional and personal barriers. In addition to essays by clerks that chronicle the reasoning process used by judges in precedent setting cases, the volume also includes contributions that describe the strong sense of professionalism and character of judges who staunchly supported the enforcement of federally protected civil rights in the old Fifth Circuit. These shared memories are entertaining to read and serve as a reminder that extraordinary judges are also fully human.

Susan B. Haire, University of Georgia, coauthor of Diversity Matters: Judicial Policy Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals

[A]n innovative collection of case studies that examine the inner workings of the lower appellate court judges’ chambers, including the law clerk selection process and other day-to-day work routines.... These chapters remind us that judges are real people with their individual approaches and foibles. It is an excellent addition to the literature in this area.

Law and Politics Book Review

Todd Peppers... is the ranking scholar on Supreme Court law clerks... He has branched out a bit with his latest and fourth book, Of Courtiers and Princes, which comprises essays by law clerks who served lower federal court judges and some state court judges as well. But law clerks at lower levels sometimes make their way up the ladder, so anecdotes in the book and how Peppers gleaned information have a Supreme Court angle:

National Law Journal

About the Author(s): 

Todd C. Peppers, Henry H. and Trudye H. Fowler Professor of Public Affairs at Roanoke College and Visiting Professor of Law at Washington and Lee School of Law, is the coauthor of A Courageous Fool: Marie Deans and Her Fight against the Death Penalty, among other books.

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books