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Clerks and U.S. senators

From NBC's Pete Williams
Two of the newest members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Mike Lee of Utah, share a distinction appropriate to that committee. Both were U.S. Supreme Court clerks.

Blumenthal clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun, and Lee was a clerk for Justice Samuel Alito

But how many other U.S. senators have clerked for Supreme Court justices throughout American history? 

A) 0
B) 2
C) 3
D) 5

The correct answer is below. But before getting to it, it's worth noting how many former Supreme Court clerks have gone on to become justices on the high court. Three members of the current court have that distinction -- John Roberts clerked for William Rehnquist; Elena Kagan clerked for Thurgood Marshall; and Stephen Breyer clerked for Arthur Goldberg. Among former justices, Rehnquist clerked for Robert Jackson; John Paul Stevens clerked for Wiley Rutledge; and Byron White clerked for Fred Vinson.

Now to the answer: It's zero. Remarkably, Lee and Blumenthal become the first U.S. senators ever to serve as Supreme Court clerks, according to a check with the court and the Senate historian. It's a fact first pointed out by Legal Times, noted in introducing an interview with Sen. Lee in its Feb. 7 issue.