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Legal Eagle

What’s a nice Jewish boy from Toronto doing working for an Italian Catholic, staunchly conservative, notoriously confrontational judge in Washington? That’s a question for Yaakov Roth, the Harvard Law School grad who was recently hired by Justice Antonin Scalia to work as a Supreme Court law clerk, beginning in July 2008. The 22-year-old graduated summa cum laude from Harvard (a very rare accomplishment — Scalia himself only received his degree from the school magna cum laude) this past spring, and for the summer he is working for a lower circuit judge in Boston. Roth, who is Orthodox, said that his religious beliefs will not interfere with his interpretation of the legal system or with his work for Scalia, a self-proclaimed “originalist.”

“I can’t think of many approaches to Judaism that are incompatible with the Constitution,” Roth told The Shmooze. “I’m generally sympathetic to [Scalia’s] approach,” he said, adding: “Look, I’ve done three years of law school. At this point, I can’t label myself.”

It’s obvious to assume that Roth will be working long, hard hours next summer, but he noted: “I don’t work on Shabbat, and I think [Scalia] would be sympathetic to that. It’s not an option for me. The year won’t be easy, because I’ll have to make up for that.”

And then there’s the issue of food, which is of utmost importance to The Shmooze. Is the Supreme Court cafeteria kosher? “It would definitely be nice, but I’m not expecting anything,” Roth said. “At this point, I’m used to it.”


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