After giving a talk on administrative law at American University Washington College of Law on April 24, Justice Scalia took a few questions. One was from a student who wanted to know what she had to do to become “outrageously successful” without “connections and elite degrees.”
Her law school, according to U.S. News & World Report, is ranked 45th in the country.
Justice Scalia gave a general answer. “Just work hard and be very good,” he said.
But then he turned to a discussion of the student’s chances of obtaining the ultimate credential in American law, a clerkship with a Supreme Court justice. Not good, he said.
“By and large,” he said, “I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?”