PUBLISHED:March 15, 2024

John Macy ’22 to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito


Macy immersed himself in courts and the judiciary during his time at Duke Law and will have a front row seat this fall at the nation's highest court.

John Macy '22 John Macy '22

John Macy ’22 has been selected to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito for the upcoming term that starts in October.

“It was like winning the lottery. It was amazing,” Macy said of his acceptance call from the justice’s office, admitting that he checked his phone repeatedly to make sure it had really occurred.

“It’s an incredible honor and I still sometimes can't believe it.”

Stuart Benjamin, the William Van Alstyne Distinguished Professor of Law, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice David H. Souter during the 1995-1996 term, called Macy “outstanding.”

“He is thoughtful to a degree that is rare in this world. He takes ideas seriously, but he does not take himself too seriously. He is one of those rare people who combine extraordinary intelligence and legal acumen with great humility,” Benjamin said of Macy.

“As I told him — and Justice Alito in my letter of recommendation — I think he compares very favorably with the Supreme Court clerks I have known. This will be a great experience for him, and I think he will be a wonderful clerk.”

Macy already has one federal clerkship under his belt. After graduating from Duke Law, he completed a year-long clerkship with Judge Justin R. Walker of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Currently he is an associate at Susman Godfrey in Seattle, which he calls “a dream place to be for young litigators.”

“I get so much substantive responsibility in terms of the work I get to do as a lawyer, but I’m also learning from people who are just so good at the job,” Macy said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Macy is one of two Duke Law School graduates who will serve as clerks at the Supreme Court this fall. Donovan Stone ’20 will clerk for Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Macy and Stone are the twelfth and thirteenth alumni selected for Supreme Court clerkships since 2010.

Following an interest in the judiciary to the nation’s highest court

Macy grew up in Alaska and majored in philosophy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he considered pursuing a career in academics. But a few classes in law convinced him he could have a more pragmatic impact as a litigator.

A Mordecai Scholar at Duke Law, he developed a strong early interest in court institutions and the judiciary, interning for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Columbus during his 1L summer.

Macy also served for two years as a research assistant for the Bolch Judicial Institute, where he contributed to several articles published in Judicature magazine, the Institute’s scholarly journal about the judiciary.

“John has a terrific legal mind, mature judgment, and is wonderful to work with,” said David F. Levi, who served as dean of the Law School from 2007 to 2018 and inaugural director of the Bolch Judicial institute until his retirement.

Levi said Walter E. Dellinger, the renowned constitutional lawyer and longtime Duke Law faculty member who died in 2022, also thought highly of Macy's contributions to their section of the final report of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Both of us were so impressed with John’s responsiveness, care, and overall writing, analytic, and research abilities,” Levi said.

“John is a star and a good guy. It is wonderful that Justice Alito was able to see these qualities in John and bring him to the Court for October term 2024.”

For Macy, clerking seemed a natural way to begin his legal career. The year with Judge Justin R. Walker was, Macy said, “an amazing experience, being in an extremely collaborative atmosphere with a very small team. It was four clerks and the judge solving very complicated problems. It's why I went to law school.”

“Judge Walker was also such a fantastic mentor,” Macy added, “I can’t think of a better way to have started my career.”

During that year he began to consider applying for a Supreme Court clerkship. Macy had already had personal interaction with Alito from taking Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation, a seminar Alito co-taught with Levi, in spring 2022.

“It is an extraordinary privilege to have the opportunity to clerk for him,” Macy said.

Macy credits Levi, Professor Marin K. Levy, and other Duke Law faculty members including Stuart Benjamin and Ernest Young with guiding and supporting him through the application process for his clerkships.

“I could not have done it without all the resources and help from Duke Law School. It’s a huge part of my life forever."