In an apparent first at the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch has hired a Native American clerk for the 2018 term.
The clerk, Tobi Merritt Edwards Young, is an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation from Midwest City, Oklahoma, and has worked for Gorsuch since the early days of President George W. Bush’s administration.
“I hope that if other Chickasaws read about my experiences, they will recognize that nothing stops them from pursuing any dream that they have too,” Young said in a Chickasaw Nation press release. “Somebody from where they are from is going to be working every day at the Supreme Court, and there’s no reason that there shouldn’t be many more to come.”
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Gorsuch and Young appear to have a professional relationship spanning almost two decades. Young worked under Gorsuch’s supervision in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice after graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2003. He later helped her secure a clerkship for Judge Jerome Holmes on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, shortly after his own appointment to that court.
Young served on the team of lawyers who helped Gorsuch prepare for his confirmation hearings in 2017. She is currently general counsel and staff secretary for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
Other clerks Gorsuch has retained for the 2018 term include Ethan Davis of King & Spalding LLP and Paul Mezzina, an alum of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s chambers.
There are approximately 60,000 enrolled Chickasaw in 2018. The tribe was among the five Native American societies forcibly moved from the east bank of the Mississippi River on the trail of tears.
A National Law Journal study found that 85 percent of Supreme Court clerks since 2005 are white, and approximately two-thirds are male.
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