Politics Women

A Woman for the Supreme Court? Not So Fast.

Just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no diversity in the Supreme Court. Look, I’m of the female gender (although sometimes I act more manly with my sweats on than I would like), and so I can have this point of view and voice it without recriminations in this moment in time. Stand aside guys, and let me handle this.

I did a little checking. There are no qualifications for being a Supreme Court Justice. It so happens that all justices so far have been lawyers, but even that isn’t a requirement.  When the President determines who he wants to nominate, past protocol calls for him to consult privately with the two senators from the state in which the nominee is from. Other than that, anything goes. (In checking it out, I did learn that we could have as many justices as we want on the court; even the number of justices is not dictated. Interesting.)

I want to see diversity in things, don’t get me wrong. I liked diversity in my daughter’s upbringing and classroom make up. I liked that she was not just surrounded by perfect, brilliant, funny, beautiful children with fabulous parents just like herself. I like to see diversity in colleges where the education is not equal and all points of view in a classroom filled with non exact answers makes it all the more interesting. 

But I don’t care about diversity in quarterbacks, brain surgeons, meat inspectors and now, Supreme Court Justices.

Here is what I do want. I want the best legal mind in the country. I want the best writer in the country. I want someone who has had a successful (meaning not overturned so much in the higher courts) history in interpreting the law. I want someone who is not 22 and just out of law school, but not so old that they had to give up diet coke to keep their mind sound like me. This is not a lot to ask, is it?

Remember Harriet Miers? Remember Alito? Let me give you a quote to chill your bones.

“When I nominated Alito, we thought we’d be getting a justice who would follow the moral tone set by my administration,” Bush said, speaking to reporters jogging alongside during the president’s three-hour morning bicycle ride. “Frankly, from what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think that’s what happening, and so I’m going to withdraw Alito’s nomination as soon as I get back to the office.”

News flash. Judges are not about following the President or his moral tone anywhere. Justices are about following the constitution put together by simpler, smarter men than have followed. It’s about putting personal morals and beliefs aside and trying as imperfectly as human nature allows to interpret the constitution as best his or her mind can conjure. That is the whole point about a lifetime appointment, so they will not be tainted by personal needs that call for them to make decisions not in line with the basic premises of our constitution.

Let me save you some time, Mr. Pres. I know you’re busy and me, not so much. Here is my suggestion for the nominee. Note that his only drawback according to the news, is that he is a white man. Ok, his name sounds stupid too, but that’s not his fault. “My name is Cass Sunstein, and I’m a United States Supreme Court Justice.” Doesn’t have a great ring to it, but we’ll keep him out of places where he needs to make that statement.

200px-sunsteinCass Sunstein, Professor, Harvard Law School and Head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

BIO: Age: 54. Harvard Law School graduate, clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall. One of the nation’s leading legal scholars. Author of numerous ground-breaking books on constitutional law and behavioral economics. Recently left long-time post as University of Chicago Law School professor to join faculty at Harvard Law.

Here is what his supporters say

— He would be a judicial rock star on the court who could easily go toe-to-toe with Roberts and Scalia and leave a lasting legacy for Obama.

— He is collegial and supported Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court.

— He is a close adviser on legal issues to Obama, who deeply admires his accomplishments.

Here is what the critics say

— As a white man from the rarefied world of academia — who graduated from and taught at elite educational institutions — he flunks the “diversity” criteria. 

I rest my case.

3 replies on “A Woman for the Supreme Court? Not So Fast.”

Presidents always try to pack the Court with like-minded judges. Always have, always will. FDR even tried to expand the Court to 15 justices, hoping to gain more support for his New Deal policies. Congress rejected the idea but eventually approved most of the New Deal anyway. And, of course, justices don’t always fall in line with the president who appointed them, which is a good thing in general, I think.

I’m favorably inclined toward Sotomayor except for her comment in a speech approving of the idea of courts making policy. The balance of powers becomes skewed when judges try to make policy. I hope she has rethought that statement.

I don’t mind Obama trying to essentially replace O’Connor with another woman, and adding the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. A wealth of different backgrounds and experiences on the Court has to be a good thing. I hope, though, that she isn’t confirmed primarily based on her gender or ethnicity.

Trouble with the news, Ms P., is that they give you partials of things. The video, if it continued, has her explaining that she does not make policy, does not agree with making policy, etc. It’s a quote out of context, as are most quotes out there. In addition, if you look at her decisions over the last 17 years, she doesn’t make policy in them at all.

I think she’s a good choice actually. I still think my guy would have been better.

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