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SCOTUS: Does Diversity Matter?



The Supreme Court. Photo by Melina Mara of the Washington Post

As President Obama and his team of advisers continue to mull his nominee to the Supreme Court in -- maddening -- seclusion, the chatter in Washington about who he should pick (and why) grows by the day.

In a column today, the Post's own Ruth Marcus makes the case for a female pick, writing: "The stark fact is that having one female voice out of nine is not consistent with women's being half the talent pool -- actually, [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg said 'at least half' -- in our society."

Marcus goes on to note that her support for a female pick is based not simply on the need for women on the Court but also because there is considerable strength among the potential female nominees. "The welcome fact is that it would be no stretch for Obama -- as it would have been no stretch for Bush -- to find a nominee who happens to be both fully qualified and in possession of two X chromosomes," Marcus concludes.

(Worth noting: Whether by happenstance or design, the most prominent names being mentioned for the nomination -- Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagen, Diane Wood -- all are women.)

There is also a significant lobbying effort by the Hispanic community to encourage Obama to pick the first Latino justice for the Court, and the growing size and influence of this Hispanic vote in elections makes their argument a powerful one.

Of a Latino pick, the Post's Bob Barnes and Mike Shear write:

"Those involved in the process inside the White House and those advising from outside say President Obama would relish such a choice. He studiously and successfully courted Hispanic support during the campaign and has maintained close ties to Latino leaders since coming to office."

For his part, Obama has said little about his thoughts on the pick -- and has not addressed the topic of diversity at all. "I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity," Obama said on May 1, adding only that the quality of "empathy" would be an important trait in his selection as well.

While the debate rages over whether diversity should be a factor -- and how much of a factor it should be -- recent polling from Gallup suggests average people are far less interested in the skin color or gender of Obama's eventual pick.

Asked how they viewed the prospect of a woman as the next Supreme Court justice, just six percent said it was "essential" that Obama put a female on the bench while 26 percent said it was a "good idea but not essential." Nearly two thirds (64 percent) said it made no difference whether Obama picked a woman or not.

The Gallup sample was even less partial to the prospect of a Hispanic justice or a black justice with 22 percent saying each would be either essential or a good idea for Obama to pick. Huge majorities said picking a Latino (68 percent) or an African American (74 percent) didn't matter to them.

While the public at large may have no heavy stake in Obama picking a woman, African American or Latino, the interest groups that track these nominations closely -- and recognize the importance of a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court -- are making clear to the administration that picking one of their own is in the president's political interests. And, if they are snubbed, you can be sure that will make their unhappiness about said snubbing to any media outlet who will listen.

How will Obama choose? Conventional wisdom suggests we'll know by next week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 13, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Comments

@Jake - As long as the nominee gets an UP or DOWN vote (I believe the demand of the former Senate majority leader) prior to the commencement of the next session, fine by me.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 13, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I would like some diversity of another kind. Several of those on the reported short list have never served as judges. The president should name one of them to bring a new perspective to the court, a perspective too long absent.

Posted by: stuck_in_Lodi | May 13, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

My 18 year old daughter has sent this comment to the President and to the senior Senators who met with him today concerning the Supreme Court nominations:

"In 1998, when I was 7 years old, Judge Carlos Moreno refused to order the Los Angeles Unified School district to stop prohibiting me from attending a free, summer remedial education program. At the end of First Grade, I could not do math at first grade level, nor could I read a first grade level. Crying poor mouth, the Los Angeles Unified School District had refused to allow me to attend the remedial summer education program BECAUSE I AM A U.S. CITIZEN. You see, the school district decided to limit their summer program to NON-CITIZENS, whether they needed the remedial classes or not.

As a result, my best friend Linda, who was a French and Algerian citizen could attend the remedial program, even though she could read at Third Grade Level, but I could not attend.

My parents filed a lawsuit against the school district, under the well known U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, which very bluntly says that no child, regardless of citizenship, can be denied equal access to free public educational programs. The case was in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 2:98-cv-04988-CM-AJW.

I remember being in the court room at the hearing, where Judge Carlos Moreno said he didn't care about my rights to Equal Protection under the Constitution or Plyler v. Doe, and that if the Los Angeles Unified School District didn't have enough money for all of its elementary school students to attend remedial summer school, that THEY COULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ME BECAUSE I AM A CITIZEN.

I will never forget how the people in the court room gasped when he said that, and how I cried. The Los Angeles Unified School District never gave me any remedial math education, and to this day I cannot pass the Federally required "No Child Left Behind" math exam.

Judge Carlos Moreno may have gone to Yale and Stanford, but in dealing with me, and my Constitutional rights, he acted like nothing more than an old time, crooked, ethnic politician. Today I learned that he had been President of the Mexican American Bar Association, so it became all the more clear to me who he was protecting to my detriment in 1998, Mexican non-citizen students.

Judge Carlos Moreno is a racist and does not deserve to be on the Supreme Court.

Evangeline Shaw"

Posted by: Jennifer555 | May 13, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

"Do you remeber when anybody in this country who had a job to fill, they could pick from the best and brightest to fill that spot? Posted by: ROYSTOLL2"

Yeah! I'm old enough to remember when. When being Female, black, Catholic, Non mainline Protestant, or any other group not old, male, and establishment meant you didn't fit that best and brightest category.

Republicans won't accept it, but affirmative action doesn't call for appointing the desired minority inspite of lack of qualifications, it means you look at all those minorities with a fair understanding that those minorities also have their share of the best and brightest. Women COULD fly B29s and B17s and B24s and B26s and P47s and P51s and...

Afirmative action simply says go seek your best and brightest from all ranks, and not just from your pool of buddies.

And remember, the last administration's "best and brightest" were the biggest collective and individual mess of dunderheads ever assembled by a single president.

Posted by: ceflynline | May 13, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

The man is a genius at using a few words to let the vast conspiracy, or the vast conspiracies, show themselves well ahead of his actual pick. Of COURSE he is keeping his own counsel at this point. He doesn't need to seek outside advice, since the outside is drenching him with it unsolicited.

Meanwhile all of his potential are telegraphing their tactics well in advance of an actual nominee around whom they might actually fashion cogent and germane opposition. By the time he utters a name, the Republicans will have their knickers in such strangulating knots that their newly acquired tenor shrieks will be merely funny, and nothing capable of actually eliciting even astro turf opposition.

I know this will get me derided for racist usage, but the only image that seems to apply is this: "And the tar baby didn't do nothing, he just sit there an smile."

Where is Brer Elephant going to find a brier patch big enough to get HIM out of the mess he is punching himself into?

Posted by: ceflynline | May 13, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

The man is a genius at using a few words to let the vast conspiracy, or the vast conspiracies, show themselves well ahead of his actual pick. Of COURSE he is keeping his own counsel at this point. He doesn't need to seek outside advice, since the outside is drenching him with it unsolicited.

Meanwhile all of his potential are telegraphing their tactics well in advance of an actual nominee around whom they might actually fashion cogent and germane opposition. By the time he utters a name, the Republicans will have their knickers in such strangulating knots that their newly acquired tenor shrieks will be merely funny, and nothing capable of actually eliciting even astro turf opposition.

I know this will get me derided for racist usage, but the only image that seems to apply is this: "And the tar baby didn't do nothing, he just sit there an smile."

Where is Brer Elephant going to find a brier patch big enough to get HIM out of the mess he is punching himself into?

Posted by: ceflynline | May 13, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

There's that dang buzzing noise again!

Posted by: nodebris | May 13, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, urged Democrats to allow the standard 60-day vetting period after the nomination is announced before launching hearings.

We'll see what happens.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

SeanC1:

Are you still around? What would you think about Comey or Kmiec?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

James Comey doesn't sound like DIVERISTY to me!

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22488.html

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

If you want to know more about registered [American] Independent [Party member] jaked, he conveniently posted his name and address on the WaPo comments section about a year ago. You could call him up and chat, assuming he didn't borrow someone else's identity. Sounds like he has lots of time on his hands, he'd probably enjoy it.

I agree with DDAWN about his egocentricism. I'm especially amused by the way he acts as though he is the prima donna of whatever chat he inserts himself into. He's such a precious little diva.

Next Canard? Anyone Else?

Posted by: nodebris | May 13, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"SCOTUS: Does Diversity Matter?

Of course and that, in 2009, the question is posed in the first place is kinda sad.

There's a huge multicultural talent pool for BHO to tap into and that's a good thing. SCOTUS should look like America."

Yes, diversity is important, but the thing we need to note is the diversity of experience. It's easy for straight white men to lack an understanding of discrimination since they don't face it. (Clarence Thomas realizes that discrimination exists, but that he is the only black person who suffers from it)

That is what Obama means by empathy. Someone who has a breadth of experiences and is capable of seeing things through the point of view of others and understands that these rulings have impact. These things aren't black and white. They are complex and that's why some diversity is needed for a court that has become more homogeneous over the years.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 13, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW: the following DEMOCRATS voted against Achtenberg: Byrd (D-WV), Hollings (D-SC), Mathews (D-TN), Sasser (D-TN), and Shelby (D-AL). You don't think that some of the newer Blue Dog Democrats would have similar second thoughts for a SUPREME COURT Justice?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD:

The "existing discussion" (on this thread, at least) is whether diversity matters on the U.S. Supreme Court. I, and several others, have said: "NO, merit is the only thing that matters." What part of that is NOT on topic or about me?

SeanC1:

Roberta Achtenberg is never going to decide the Constitutionality of DOMA or same-sex marriage on the federal level.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

"Why would being opposed to gay marriage mean being opposed to gay people holding appointed office? We already dealt with that when Roberta Achtenberg was confirmed (with, incidentally, the support of Joe Lieberman)."

Mainly because people who don't want gays to get married just hate homosexuals. It isn't really about the sanctity of marriage.

Of course, we're talking about on the voter level, not the politician level.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 13, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

"Lamont Cranston=The Shadow
John Reid=The Lone Ranger
Don Diego de la Vega=Zorro
Bruce Wayne=Batman
JakeD=King of Zouk ????"

JakeD actually makes me think of a Republican schrivner. Both are incredibly egocentric and have the same sort of tone. They are unwilling to get involved in existing discussion and want the attention to be focused on them. Both have a major pet issue and can't seem to understand why the rest of the world doesn't care about it.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 13, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"If Obama nominates a homosexual, all bets are off. Joe Lieberman is a bit more CONSERVATIVE than you may know -- he is "personally" opposed to same-sex marriage"

Why would being opposed to gay marriage mean being opposed to gay people holding appointed office? We already dealt with that when Roberta Achtenberg was confirmed (with, incidentally, the support of Joe Lieberman).

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 13, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

broadwayjoe:

As I said, I don't post under any other name, including KoZ.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Lamont Cranston=The Shadow
John Reid=The Lone Ranger
Don Diego de la Vega=Zorro
Bruce Wayne=Batman
JakeD=King of Zouk ????
________

Have Jake and the King ever been seen in the same room at the same time?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 13, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS: Does Diversity Matter?

Of course and that, in 2009, the question is posed in the first place is kinda sad.

There's a huge multicultural talent pool for BHO to tap into and that's a good thing. SCOTUS should look like America.

____

Look out for Congressman Bobby Scott of Norfolk way; as Hal Sutton once said at the Ryder Cup, I have a feeling about this.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 13, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

katem1:

I don't post under any other name, and I've been posting on other WaPo blogs and articles, e.g. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/05/13/first_lady_again_reaches_out_t.html#comments

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: just curious, I haven't seen you on the comments of other WaPo columns and blogs. Do you sign in under another name, or just not read anything other than the Fix?

Posted by: katem1 | May 13, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Apart from the recent polling from Gallup suggesting most Americans are far less interested in the skin color or gender of the next Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is just flat-out wrong when she said the pool of qualified individuals are "'at least half' [female] in our society." While law school graduates are more recently a larger percentage female, that's quite a lagging indicator -- we obviously don't expect 1st year lawyers to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court right after they get their bar results -- I've hired hundreds of highly-qualified male and female lawyers from 1976 until 1995, so I know that female lawyers were a much small percentage of law school graduates back then -- as much as we want to deny it, white males of the caliber needed for the U.S. Supreme Court still remain the largest group to pick from.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, is the financial situation so bad that the WaPo can't put up a picture that's less than three and a half years old?

Posted by: DDAWD | May 13, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

BTW: The Supreme Court photo by Melina Mara of the Washington Post is outdated (Alito replaced O'Connor).

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Bondosan:

It would be fine with me (I'm Independent, so I wouldn't mind BOTH major parties losing members).

FairlingtonBlade:

No, I didn't say that (although a higher percentage are) -- just like I didn't say that all tax cheats are homosexuals -- if the GOP can't stop those kinds of Supreme Court, then it's time to disband the GOP and start over. Hopefully, another Civil War won't be needed this time.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Now that would be entertaining. And remember, EVERY SCOTUS nominee is entitled to an up or down vote!

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 13, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

I am white, male, heterosexual, married, with a beautiful baby girl at home (you see, I have to state my bona fides because I'm so insecure about my sexuality), but I would LOVE it if Obama nominated someone who was gay to the Supreme Court.

It would tie the Republicans in knots, trying to decide if they should play to the most homophobic of their base.

In the end, the nominee would be confirmed (all it takes is 50 plus the VP; forget about a filibuster, it simply wouldn't stand) and Republicans would have cannibalized themselves even further.

Wouldn't that be AWESOME?!

Posted by: Bondosan | May 13, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The reason you don't hear the repukes talking about diversity is that they don't want it in their party. They are quite happy being the party of the white, uneducated, redneck bigots in the south. They are also coming to enjoy their time as the permanent minority.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 13, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@Jake - So suddenly non-heteros are child molesters?

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 13, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"A child molester, with a brilliant legal mind, ain't getting onto the Supreme Court either."

I assume they're all too busy protesting Obama's appearance at Notre Dame to be interested in a court appointment.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Another tax cheat would likely trigger a filibuster too.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Polling suggests there would be no screaming from white men if the 8 minority lesbians were really, really, hot."


Hogwash. They'd all be screaming "APPOINT ME!!! APPOINT ME!!!"


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

A child molester, with a brilliant legal mind, ain't getting onto the Supreme Court either.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Merit and diversity are not mutually exclusive, and both matter.

Ideally, merit would matter the most. But diversity has always mattered as well, be it geographical, ideological, etc. We are merely adding the criteria of race and gender to the existing diversity considerations. Perhaps someday these will diminish in importance, just as it is less important now to ensure a balance of northern and southern justices.

Posted by: nodebris | May 13, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"If Obama nominates a homosexual, all bets are off."

So, suddenly qualifications don't matter?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Bondosan:

If Obama nominates a homosexual, all bets are off. Joe Lieberman is a bit more CONSERVATIVE than you may know -- he is "personally" opposed to same-sex marriage -- Lieberman also supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and "Don't ask, don't tell" in 1993. In 1994, Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Bob Smith (R-NH) proposed an amendment, S.AMDT.2434, to Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization (ESEA) - S.1513 - that would prevent federal funding for schools that "implement or carry out a program or activity that has either the purpose or effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as a positive lifestyle." Lieberman voted for the amendment. He also voted for prohibiting HIV-positive immigrants from entering the United States and against a measure to grant domestic-partner benefits to District of Columbia employees. Did you know any that?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

If there were 8 minority lesbians on the court, would the 'diversity doesn't matter' crowd be screaming for a white man to be appointed?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Polling suggests there would be no screaming from white men if the 8 minority lesbians were really, really, hot.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | May 13, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

The Republicans will not be able to sustain a filibuster against a Supreme Court nominee.

By the time this comes up for a vote, the Democrats will have 60 votes.

And even if they don't, the ladies from Maine will never support one, and Lieberman would scrub Reid's testicles with a toothbrush (soft bristles only) in order to keep his committee assignments.

Posted by: Bondosan | May 13, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Requirements for hussein's Supreme Court nominee:

1. Hispanic (NB: English speaking or understanding is NOT required.)
2. Female (NB: No test will be made to confirm this to allow janet "wrong-way" napolitano to think she actually has a shot at the nomination.)
3. Dues-paying Union member
4. Has one black parent and at least one illegal immigrant parent.
5. TAX CHEAT who has swindled the government out of at least $50,000 (more is BETTER).
6. Gay or a gay-rights advocate
7. Member of La Raza advocating AMNESTY plus unlimited government benefits for all illegals.
8. Totally, completely committed to the socialist philosophy of Karl Marx.
9. Experienced as a "community organizer" with ACORN who has enabled at least 1000 cases of voter fraud (more is BETTER).
10. An experienced drug user (as close to the hussein level as possible) and an advocate for the legalization of all husseinallucinogenics.

NB: NO LEGAL EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!

When the loony-left d-crats talk of their "big tent" they actually mean their "circus tent" - as that is what they need to contain this "diversity" freak show.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | May 13, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I would almost accept Carlos Moreno (if that would leave the Prop. 8 case tied ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON (AP) - A source tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama is considering California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and more than five other people as nominees for the Supreme Court.

An official familiar with Obama's decision-making said others include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood—people who have been mentioned frequently as potential candidates.

The official said there were other people under consideration. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no names have been publicly revealed by the White House.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

There was a quite interesting article the other day about how having women on a court does make a difference. Both in terms of how they vote and how male justices vote on courts with or without women. Recasting the question a bit, SCOTUS: does gender matter? Yes.

BB

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/01/AR2009050103406.html

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 13, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely diversity DOES matter on the Court. But lazy people like to equate the word 'diversity' with being less- or under-qualified. They have all kinds of fancy terms for it--reverse discrimination, quotas, etc. That's all crap. Diversity means targeting highly qualified minorities where they are historically underrepresented. It is unfathomable to think that there are not eminently qualified women, Hispanics, and African Americans who can serve honorably on the Court. One just has to look. And therein lies the problem. The lazy establishment (read angry old white men) have only looked at their buddies who look and think just like them. The real world doesn't look just like them. There is a value to having a court that is made up of highly qualified justices who actually represent the world we all live in--who actually know what it's like to not be able to get a cab in the middle of the city or what it's like to be racially profiled, or what it's like to be paid less than a man for the same work, who knows what it's like to be an immigrant and not speak English natively, etc.

Posted by: kwbinMD | May 13, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

If there were 8 minority lesbians on the court, would the 'diversity doesn't matter' crowd be screaming for a white man to be appointed?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

My take on this. It's time to reconsider lifetime appointments. Clearly, justices need to be independent of political pressure. Furthermore, no one president should be able to completely remake the court. Here is the proposal:

The term of a supreme court justice shall be 20 years. Judicial openings shall be staggered such that there is one appointment every two years. The appointment of a chief justice is to a new 20 year term, regardless as to if the appointment is for elevation of a sitting justice or a new justice.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 13, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Bondosan:

Oh, yes, please nominate someone like Pam Karlan or Kathleen Sullivan to make sure the entire GOP (and a few Democrats, plus Lieberman) filibuster. PLEASE!

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

To all of you short sighted liberals, why do you bring up race in every single comment subject, event, article, issue, appointment, party, blog? Is this your only thing in life? Republicans and conservatives don't do this. And don't start calling me your childish little names or accusing me of being a bigot, because I assure you NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH!.

Posted by: ROYSTOLL2 | May 13, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Does diversity matter on the Supreme Court? Any reading of the history of the Supreme Court definitely argues for YES. Historically, and by historically I include the last two justices, supreme court nominees are essentially country club white men. They may not have a country club background, but that is how they view the world. You can pick a non-white woman who is essentially an old white man. Diversity is about how the justice weighs the various factors in making his or her decisions. Given the same exact set of factors to consider different people, all of whom are intellectually rigorous, will form different conclusions. This is the type of diversity that makes for a healthy court.

That said, the pick should be a woman. The idea that there is one person most qualified is a fallacy. There are numerous candidates all with different strengths and weaknesses who are all qualified. Some are men, some are women, some are black and some are of other ethnic backgrounds. Only one can be picked. When it comes to an arcane question of tort law or the application of tariffs, anyone of them will probably come to the same conclusion. When it deals with a 13 year old girl being stripped searched for no compelling state reason it would be nice to have more than one dissenting opinion on the probable mental state of a 13 year old girl.

Posted by: caribis | May 13, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

SeanC1:

Exactly, none of them are pro-choice. What about Doug Kmiec, would he be acceptable to you?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

As the president is an avid reader of "The Fix," I'd like to suggest to you, Sir, that you appoint Pamela S. Karlan to the court.

As a brilliant legal scholar, as well as a member of the LGBT community, she would bring not only diversity, but the kind of intellectual firepower the court hasn't seen in years.

Posted by: Bondosan | May 13, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"As if you would have been fine with Alberto Gonzales being the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice?"

We wouldn't have liked Gonzales on the Court at all (of course, his qualifications would be questionable; he's such a joke these days that major law firms won't hire him), but he's no less an Hispanic for being conservative. All people are allowed differing opinions.

"Hopefully, whatever "diversity" factor is used can be turned back against Obama. For instance, the GOP could say re: Sonia Sotomayor: "Her judicial temperment and work ethic are the issues. We would accept Miguel Estrada, Emilio Garza, Janice Rogers Brown, or Diane Sykes instead.""

None of those people demonstrate the qualities that Obama is looking for in a justice, as he has enunciated in the past.

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 13, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes is the simple answer. Many of us are very unhappy with a Supreme Court with a conservative (yes male) Catholic majority. Being Catholic is not a disqualifier, Justice Brennan was one of our greatest justices, but all of the old conservative school is too much.

Posted by: Desertstraw | May 13, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes:

Exactly.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

reubencarter:

As if you would have been fine with Alberto Gonzales being the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice? Hopefully, whatever "diversity" factor is used can be turned back against Obama. For instance, the GOP could say re: Sonia Sotomayor: "Her judicial temperment and work ethic are the issues. We would accept Miguel Estrada, Emilio Garza, Janice Rogers Brown, or Diane Sykes instead."

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Merit is the only thing that should be considered. Having said that, there is just as many qualified women to choose from as men, so give Ruth someone she can share recipes with.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 13, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama has called for greater SCOTUS diversity in the past and even campaigned on the issue to some degree. It absolutely matters for Obama's credibility.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | May 13, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Do you remeber when anybody in this country who had a job to fill, they could pick from the best and brightest to fill that spot? Now that is all gone, with a lot of that talent in this country. It seems like every single liberal is obsessed with getting "their" representative at the table. The UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT is an esteemed group that should be above politics of any sort and the person should be appointed for their integrity (good luck on that) and their judgement. There are plenty of fine people in this country that are above personal gratification, free of agendas that will interfere with their judgement. People like Jimmy Carter, Condoleeza Rice, James Baker, Colin Powell, Jeff Sessions. How about just once we appoint someone on merit, not skin color, sexual preference or gender

Posted by: ROYSTOLL2 | May 13, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It matters for POTUS's reelection campaign..which is pretty much seamless .. beginning two plus years ago...and rebeginning as soon as the votes were counted.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 13, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it absolutely does and, for the record, diversity and qualifications are not mutually exclusive.

Politically speaking, i'd love to watch the Republicans continue to pour gasoline on their brand (if they still have one) by attacking a hispanic pick solely to appease their base.

but that's just me.

Posted by: reubencarter | May 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely, I think it does matter.

One of the things that often sidetracks discussions about this is the idea that there is one Most Qualified Person, and that it's the President's job to find that person.

In reality, there are numerous qualified people who could all do the job, rarely with one towering over the others. Once you accept that, you're looking at other factors to decide.

And one of those should definitely be that the current Court, whatever else might be said about it, does not look like America. It's got 8 men and 8 white people, which doesn't reflect either the legal community or the American community at large. Institutions become more legitimate the more they are perceived to resemble the constituency they are responsible for.

Also, talk of how Obama is potentially selecting with race and gender as guides ignores that presidents have already, for quite a while, been using age as a qualification. Nobody is expecting the nominee to be over 60, for example.

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 13, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS: Does Diversity Matter?

No.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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