Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Quoting from the lead editorial (about new Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito) in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"Another minus is that the nomination lessens the court's diversity. [Sandra Day] O'Connor herself had expressed the desire that her successor be a woman. O'Connor seems to have grown wiser about diversity as a result of her Supreme Court experience. She came to see the virtues of having a court that looks like America - doubtless a big reason she softened her opposition to affirmative action in recent years.

"In losing a woman, the court with Alito would feature seven white men, one white woman and a black man, who deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America."

If a white man might be permitted to make a couple of observations...

  • Six white men, two white women and one black* man--as opposed to seven white men, one white woman and one black* man--looks like America?
  • As I recall, the job of the Supreme Court is to uphold and interpret the Constitution. Perhaps I'm just dense, but I fail to see how racial or gender diversity has any relevance to that. Ideological diversity, I could see, but linking that to racial and gender diversity is dubious.
  • Especially dubious is linking specific genders and races to specific ideologies, as the Journal Sentinel does with its race-baiting "asterisk" comment about Clarence Thomas. (I wonder if, had Harriet Miers been confirmed, the Journal Sentinel would have called for an asterisk by her name, the first time she cast a vote different from how she "should have" voted as a woman...)
  • For that matter, if the only black on the court having views "unacceptable" for a black man to hold was such a serious matter, President Clinton had an opportunity to rectify the situation with his second Supreme Court nomination (the first going to Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Who did he select? Stephen G. Breyer--a white man.
There are plenty of qualities that can serve as either merits or demerits for a prospective Supreme Court justice. Neither race nor gender is one of them.

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