'A momentous year'

It has been a momentous year for the Supreme Court of the United States. It’s also been a big year for alumnus Andrew Bentz, who has spent that time in a coveted position at the highest court.

Bentz, a 2007 music and political science South Carolina Honors College graduate, landed a highly sought-after clerk position with Justice Anthony Kennedy after law school, a path he discovered in his time at the University of South Carolina. 

“USC gave me a good foundation for academics and for the arts that I went on to build upon,” he says. 

When Bentz, a Charleston native, first came to college he studied singing in the School of Music, but a globalization in America class turned him on to another option. 

“I got really interested in it and decided to add political science as a major,” he says. “I liked it so much, I decided to keep going down that road.” 

He turned to the Office of Fellowship and Scholar Programs for help crafting the perfect application for national, competitive fellowships for postgraduate studies. With the help of the university’s team of experts, Bentz landed a fellowship from the Department of Homeland Security, which funded his master’s studies at Duke University. 

After law school in Virginia, Bentz was appointed to a clerkship for Judge Alex Kozinski in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Getting a position at the Supreme Court after a year in the 9th Circuit was like “lightening striking,” Bentz says.  

As one of five clerks working with Justice Kennedy, Bentz helped review petitions for arguments, craft questions for oral arguments and research and draft opinions. 

“You can read the news and know this is a pretty momentous year whatever happens. You certainly are aware of it being on the inside,” he says. “It’s not lost on anyone here.” 

Bentz is still drawing on his musical background, even if he’s not singing professionally these days. 

“Music opens up the creative passageways and lets you think about things differently,” he says. “It also gives you a sense of discipline, to sit and practice something for hours on end.”    

Now that he has wrapped up his time at the Supreme Court, Bentz plans to practice general litigation at a law firm before picking a specialization or considering teaching. 

“I want to get out and do some litigation and find out what I like from the other side. It’s quite different helping someone decide the case as opposed to having to fight for one side or the other,” he says. 

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