2012 PFIG Recipient Marco Segura
College of Arts & Sciences
Government and American Studies Major
2013 Graduation Year
Internship: US Supreme Court Clerk's Office
Notes on the first week
Today was a very exciting day because I started my internship at the U.S. Supreme Court Clerk's Office. As I approached the Court, there was a huge crowd of reporters with their cameras set on the steps, ready to capture the decision made on very important cases. This view was fascinating as many reporters were talking about the cases that the court was going to decide on.
As I settled in the office, I talked to the old interns and asked a lot of questions in regards to the dynamics and the way the office worked. The Clerk's Office Supervisor let me sit inside the Court chambers as he thought it would be the last day of Court and I witnessed how the whole Court gave their decisions on striking parts of the Arizona Law and their inclination to bar mandatory life without parole for kids. Everyone seemed very anxious to hear the decision on the Affordable Care Act, yet the Chief Justice explained that it will come out on Thursday. After getting my badge and learning how to file, make copies and learning the routes to the chambers of all the justices' staff, I got to take a break.
A very cool thing that the Court has on the third floor is a gym and a basketball court. So, I played against the officers, marshal's aides and on my team were my fellow interns and clerks, plus Justice Alito's personal aide. The facilities are awesome and it allows for the staff to relax and take a break from a very convoluted schedule. Right after the gym, I got trained in several other procedures of the Clerk's office such as how to answer phones and the procedures of the Court.
At 3p.m. all the Supreme Court interns got the chance to meet Justice Thomas and have a q and a. He was a very personable man and decided to take a picture with each one of us after the talk. As he saw that there were three UVA students, he started to say kind things about our school and share some of his memories. What a great way to start the week, I am very happy in this place as it reflects the same dynamics of a family and everyone is very kind.
"The highlight of my first week was the decision reached by the Court in regards to the ACA, or the battle over the Affordable Care Act. However, throughout the rest of that week other cases were also decided such as Arizona v. US, Miller v. Georgia and US v. Alvarez. Although these cases did not carry the same weight and media coverage as the ACA appeal, they carried their own importance to specific groups of people.
Thus far I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship, the staff here is the happiest and they make it even more enjoyable. Every day I take breaks at 1pm to play basketball at the SCOTUS gym with some law clerks, police officers ad staff. Today I had the unique privilege to play one on one with my supervisor. There are many benefits of being in this internship such as meeting awesome people of the caliber of General Suter who is the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Today we had a conversation of about half an hour where he explained to me the many ways in which the law can be applied to work for the military as well as the civilian population. Another great aspect of my internship is the chance I get to meet the Justices and the Justices staff while doing circulation of opinions and briefs to their chambers, so far I have met Thomas, Scalia and Sotomayor.
This week I moved from the filing room to the admissions sections of the Clerk’s office. This place is a little bit more relaxed as we do not have to meet deadlines and have to enter lawyers’ information to the website when they are admitted to argue in front of the Supreme Court. Although it is a little laid back, the office is right next to the Deputy Clerk’s office, so I also have to help him out from time to time. Thus far it feels as if the office is a family instead of a group of strangers.
Through this internship I have learned that to impact the world you do not have to be a lawyer, you do not have to be a hot shot, all you have to do is work hard and be kind to other people. The biggest example to me is Mr. Gary Kemp, who is the first Black Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court. This impressive man got his job while he was twenty-six, his devotion to people is beyond reproach. The most fascinating aspect of him is that he can talk to Justice Thomas, the same way he talks to Dannell, the cleaning person. Always with a smile and respectful, he carefully listens to everyone, no matter if you are an employee or just visiting the Court. People like him embody the true meaning of service and I am so glad to learn from him."
This is the last week of my internship; it makes me sad to think I won’t see the people from my internship each daily. My biggest accomplishments have been to meet every staff member at each of the Justices’ chambers, memorize the names of the officers, cleaning people, elevator operators, law clerks and develop long-lasting relationships with each one of them. From the daily homework by Mr. Chester, to my daily conversations with the SCOTUS Clerk General Sutter, to going to the laundry room to iron my clothes in the morning, this internship has created a small atmosphere of happiness for the past several weeks.
Professionally, I believe this internship has provided me with some long-lasting relationship with important people such as the law clerks and the Justices’ staff. Furthermore, by way of doing daily circulations, I have had the honor to meet most of the Justices. As an example, today I spoke to Justice O’Connor for about ten minutes as we were heading to the gym. In addition, by working with the administrative clerks, I have witnessed first-hand the difficult process to have a case heard by the Justices.
Personally, the impact has been greater. Just last Friday the whole office went to the Washington Nationals game. It was an unbelievable way to bond with the staff as they brought their families. Knowing them personally, learning about their hopes, dreams and future plans better prepared me to deal with co-workers in the real world. The clerks at the office are amazing people who perform tasks to the highest level, despite being understaffed. I have been deeply touched to listen to their stories, from Justice Thomas’ to Ms. Gloria, the elevator operator. This Court provided me with a great example, Mr. Kemp; he’s been such an extraordinary man that I have no words to describe him. Now I know with certainty, anyone can change the world and a suit is just a suit, not a mark of higher class.
The greatest challenge for this internship has been waking up at 5 am to exercise and then go to work. Waking up that early has definitely put me under a rigorous schedule where there is not a lot of free time, even during the weekends. I would get to the Court at around 7:30 am and get off at around 4:30 pm. Working around the clock has changed my life since there are no more homework assignments, but instead I have to give my best at the office.
I have learned a lot about the Supreme Court, but learned even more about human beings. No matter where we are and what we do, hard work is always recognized; good people see when you work hard. This internship has definitely changed my perspective about the law and about the Supreme Court overall, no matter the person’s profession, in a way or another, we can all change the world without a J.D. Working towards a perfect world doesn’t mean reacting after something happens, it means making our lives by serving our people and making sure everyone gets the same opportunities.