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FrankieTDouglas
May 1, 2009, 05:51 PM
How do you feel about one of the focal points concerning the new Supreme Court nominee is not work qualifications at the forefront, but instead gender and race as utmost importance for consideration to replace David Souter? Obama has not made any reference to whom he might choose as a replacement, but this NY Times article in addition to a few other outlets seem focused on the sex/race as primary considerations.

I do not care if it's a man or woman, white, black, Asian, hispanic, Indian, ..... I just hope the person is not a dominant left or right leaning individual. But why must each candidates' skin and gender credentials be given after they are identified in this article?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/02search.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

Women and Minorities Seen as a Focus of Search
By NEIL A. LEWIS

WASHINGTON ó The news that Justice David H. Souter had decided to retire from the Supreme Court fanned the speculative flames in legal and political circles on Friday about whom President Obama might nominate to the court to replace him, with much of the focus on women and minority candidates.

The White House has been preparing since Mr. Obama took office for the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy this spring, and the White House Counselís office privately stepped up its efforts on Friday to search for a replacement for Justice Souter.

Lawyers and legal scholars said on Friday that while Mr. Obama may choose a white man for a later vacancy, he would probably not do so in his first opportunity to shape the court. Names of prominent women jurists, on the other hand, were widely discussed as likely candidates.

One of them, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who sits on the federal appeals court in New York, demonstrates many of the political qualifications that might be sought in any selection. In addition to whatever legal and judicial skills Judge Sotomayor offers, she is a template for several of the characteristics that Mr. Obama might seek: a woman of Hispanic heritage, at age 54 she would be able to sit on the court for many years and brings an appealing personal story. Judge Sotomayor grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx and went on to Princeton and the Yale Law School before becoming a federal trial judge and then an appeals court judge.

Since the retirement of Justice Sandra Day OíConnor in 2005, the only woman on the court is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 76 and recently suffered her second bout with cancer, though she seems to have overcome it. Justice Ginsburg has recently lamented publicly her status as the only woman on the court.

Other leading candidates include Leah Ward Sears, 53, the chief judge of the Georgia Supreme Court; Prof. Kathleen M. Sullivan, a professor and former dean at the Stanford Law School; and Elena Kagan, a former dean of the Harvard Law School. Judge Sears is black; Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Kagan are white.

Ms. Kagan has long been considered a candidate, although she was just confirmed as solicitor general, the government lawyer who is in charge of arguing cases before the Supreme Court; she is so new in the job that she has not yet argued her first case.

Similarly, Harold Hongju Koh, a former dean of the Yale Law School and an Asian-American who was considered a potential candidate, is preparing to become the State Departmentís chief lawyer. Two women who sit on the court of appeals based in Chicago, Judge Ann C. Williams and Diane P. Wood, have also appeared on many lists of potential nominees, as has Judge Kim M. Wardlaw of the federal appeals court in California. Judge Williams is black and Judge Wood is white; Judges Wardlaw is Hispanic.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama spoke of his admiration for former Chief Justice Earl M. Warren, citing as a special virtue his practical political experience as a former governor of California. If Mr. Obama were to look to a political figure with a strong legal background, he could turn to a longtime friend, Deval Patrick, the African-American governor of Massachusetts. Other governors who have held high public legal positions are Christine Gregoire of Washington and Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan, both of whom are white.

Many lawyers and political analysts say that President Obama will probably have an opportunity to name at least one more member of the court during his time in office.

Two white men who could be considered for the court, but are seen as less likely for the first vacancy, are Judge Merrick Garland, who sits on the federal appeals court in Washington and Cass Sunstein, a former law professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard, who is working for the Obama administration as a special adviser on government regulation.

MacNut
May 1, 2009, 06:49 PM
It is a good question, I think he should pick the best person for the job. If that turns out to be a woman fine. The highest court is not the place to be playing the gender/race card.

rdowns
May 1, 2009, 07:13 PM
Why don't we let him make a nomination before we speculate about this. It's not like he's going to nominate Harriet Miers.

Iscariot
May 1, 2009, 07:21 PM
Preemptive racism? The Bush doctrine set some interesting precedents.

sysiphus
May 1, 2009, 07:22 PM
It is a good question, I think he should pick the best person for the job. If that turns out to be a woman fine. The highest court is not the place to be playing the gender/race card.

Agreed. Good thing we didn't approach the presidency that way, too...can you imagine electing somebody with virtually no experience or track record, just because of a pretty (black) face? Oh wait...:eek:

Sun Baked
May 1, 2009, 07:26 PM
Time for a transgender justice of indeterminate race ...

mactastic
May 1, 2009, 08:49 PM
Do we really need a separate thread for this? Can this not be discussed in the context of the already-existing SCOTUS thread?

kastenbrust
May 2, 2009, 05:49 AM
I think its going to be a disabled black white mexican female who's gay

iPhoneNYC
May 2, 2009, 07:06 AM
With so many qualified woman to choose from - far more than in the O'Coner days - I would look there. The family portrait of the Supreme Court justices is not a family portrait of America.

Tomorrow
May 2, 2009, 08:33 PM
With so many qualified woman to choose from - far more than in the O'Coner days - I would look there. The family portrait of the Supreme Court justices is not a family portrait of America.

Here's a better question: is the family portrait of the Supreme Court justices similar to a family portrait of judges qualified to be justices?

I don't disagree that there are probably some well-qualified women, or minorities, or both, in the pool of potential justices; but to focus on that before focusing on experience or qualifications does scream something akin to reverse discrimination to me.

mactastic
May 2, 2009, 08:44 PM
Here's a better question: is the family portrait of the Supreme Court justices similar to a family portrait of judges qualified to be justices?

I don't disagree that there are probably some well-qualified women, or minorities, or both, in the pool of potential justices; but to focus on that before focusing on experience or qualifications does scream something akin to reverse discrimination to me.
I suspect the process will be the opposite. A pool of well-qualified candidates will be identified, with Obama selecting his choice from that pool.

I would hope you don't think that Harriet Miers was the most qualified person in the nation for the court at the time she was selected?

Tomorrow
May 2, 2009, 10:32 PM
I would hope you don't think that Harriet Miers was the most qualified person in the nation for the court at the time she was selected?

When I first heard her name, I had never heard of her before. The more I learned about her, the more I wondered why she was even considered for the job. I wasn't anywhere close to heartbroken when I learned she withdrew her name from consideration.

Ugg
May 2, 2009, 10:42 PM
Here's a better question: is the family portrait of the Supreme Court justices similar to a family portrait of judges qualified to be justices?

I don't disagree that there are probably some well-qualified women, or minorities, or both, in the pool of potential justices; but to focus on that before focusing on experience or qualifications does scream something akin to reverse discrimination to me.

What you're implying is that almost a century and a half after the civil war and 89 years after women were granted the right to vote, that in the vast pool of judges out there, the best are white, anglo saxon, males.

If that's the case, then why? Do we need to wait another 150 years before we have another ethnic minority? another 89 years before there are two women on the bench?

Tomorrow
May 2, 2009, 10:52 PM
What you're implying is that almost a century and a half after the civil war and 89 years after women were granted the right to vote, that in the vast pool of judges out there, the best are white, anglo saxon, males.

No, you're incorrectly inferring that. What I'm saying is that there seems to be more wisdom in placing emphasis first on a candidate's qualifications rather than on gender or race. There's nothing whatsoever in my post that suggests that any candidate is any more or less qualified because of gender or race.

If that's the case, then why? Do we need to wait another 150 years before we have another ethnic minority? another 89 years before there are two women on the bench?

We've had ethnic minorities and women on the bench in the past, and we do now. I don't have a problem with having any more. Today we have justices Ginsberg and Thomas on the court, and even though they're just about polar opposites in terms of politics, they are both (in my opinion) well-qualified and well-suited to the job. Those feelings of mine have absolutely nothing to do with their being female or an ethnic minority, respectively. As far as I'm concerned, that's completely irrelevant.

You seem to have missed this in my previous post, but I'll spell it out plainly here: I'm not the least bit concerned with a justice's race or gender. That's right; I don't care in the slightest. I do care about who has the background to do a good job. My statement is that the person's qualifications - education, experience, however you want to describe it - is more important than the person's race or gender.

Ugg
May 2, 2009, 11:08 PM
No, you're incorrectly inferring that. What I'm saying is that there seems to be more wisdom in placing emphasis first on a candidate's qualifications rather than on gender or race. There's nothing whatsoever in my post that suggests that any candidate is any more or less qualified because of gender or race.



We've had ethnic minorities and women on the bench in the past, and we do now. I don't have a problem with having any more. Today we have justices Ginsberg and Thomas on the court, and even though they're just about polar opposites in terms of politics, they are both (in my opinion) well-qualified and well-suited to the job. Those feelings of mine have absolutely nothing to do with their being female or an ethnic minority, respectively. As far as I'm concerned, that's completely irrelevant.

You seem to have missed this in my previous post, but I'll spell it out plainly here: I'm not the least bit concerned with a justice's race or gender. That's right; I don't care in the slightest. I do care about who has the background to do a good job. My statement is that the person's qualifications - education, experience, however you want to describe it - is more important than the person's race or gender.

Let me put it this way. I find it absolutely impossible to believe that there are only a handful of qualified judges out there. There are certainly dozens if not hundreds of judges who would be a perfectly good choice.

Given that the judges Obama will be making his pick from are baby boomers, in other words, judges who had the benefits of the civil rights movement, the women's movement and a generally enlightened society or at least a less talibanistic society than preceded it. He'll have plenty of women, blacks, latinos, gays, and for that matter, even heterosexual anglo saxon white guys to choose from. If that's the case and he is given 3 equally qualified judges to choose from and chooses the woman over the men, simply because she's a woman, is there anything wrong with that? I certainly don't think so.

It's time to stop thinking about discrimination and more about a government that reflects the general population.

FrankieTDouglas
May 2, 2009, 11:45 PM
Let me put it this way. I find it absolutely impossible to believe that there are only a handful of qualified judges out there. There are certainly dozens if not hundreds of judges who would be a perfectly good choice.

Given that the judges Obama will be making his pick from are baby boomers, in other words, judges who had the benefits of the civil rights movement, the women's movement and a generally enlightened society or at least a less talibanistic society than preceded it. He'll have plenty of women, blacks, latinos, gays, and for that matter, even heterosexual anglo saxon white guys to choose from. If that's the case and he is given 3 equally qualified judges to choose from and chooses the woman over the men, simply because she's a woman, is there anything wrong with that? I certainly don't think so.

It's time to stop thinking about discrimination and more about a government that reflects the general population.

If that's the case and he is given 3 equally qualified judges to choose from and chooses the man over the women, simply because he's a man, is there anything wrong with that? I certainly don't think so.

hmmm...

Tomorrow
May 2, 2009, 11:52 PM
If that's the case and he is given 3 equally qualified judges to choose from and chooses the woman over the men, simply because she's a woman, is there anything wrong with that? I certainly don't think so.

It's time to stop thinking about discrimination and more about a government that reflects the general population.

I changed the emphasis, but not the wording. It reads very differently to me now.

If that's the case and he is given 3 equally qualified judges to choose from and chooses the man over the women, simply because he's a man, is there anything wrong with that? I certainly don't think so.

This is a good point, but not really different from Ugg's - just the other way around.

I do understand both of your points - if there really are several candidates who are equally qualified, then choose away. Pick the one you think might be on the court longer, pick the one whose political leanings are more like your own, whatever. I don't see a problem with that.

FrankieTDouglas
May 3, 2009, 12:51 AM
I changed the emphasis, but not the wording. It reads very differently to me now.



This is a good point, but not really different from Ugg's - just the other way around.

I do understand both of your points - if there really are several candidates who are equally qualified, then choose away. Pick the one you think might be on the court longer, pick the one whose political leanings are more like your own, whatever. I don't see a problem with that.

I really have no preference on it needing to be a man or woman, or which race the person will be. I'm just pointing out the oddness of using gender (or race, or height, or weight, or...) to be the deciding factor when it's nothing to do with visual appearance and all to do with intelligence.

If someone fights oppression with oppression, they become the system they fight against.

MikeTheC
May 3, 2009, 01:20 AM
I don't want a black person to be nominated, nor a white person, nor a woman or a man or a Jewish or a Christian or a Buddhist. I want a competent, qualified individual to be nominated and approved.

Anything else that person happens to be is a secondary (or even tertiary) characteristic and is fundamentally irrelevant.

As far as factors I think should be determining ones (though I guarantee Obama will not agree) are the person should be a strict Founding Fathers constitutionalist. I don't want an interpretative or constructionist or "new wave" or neo-con person. The Constitution is there for a reason, and while maybe some will laugh, I want the d*mn thing upheld above all else at all costs.

It is also not the Supreme Court's area of authority or right to legislate from the bench. They need to decide whether something is in agreement with the Constitution and statutes. Either it is or it isn't. Strike down B.S. laws that are unconstitutional, but for goodness sake we don't need them writing the law! (That's what Separation of Powers is all about.)

Ugg
May 3, 2009, 09:17 AM
I don't want a black person to be nominated, nor a white person, nor a woman or a man or a Jewish or a Christian or a Buddhist. I want a competent, qualified individual to be nominated and approved.

Anything else that person happens to be is a secondary (or even tertiary) characteristic and is fundamentally irrelevant.



You must live in some parallel universe. Supreme Court nominations have always been based upon all the things you've just petulantly stated that you don't want.

Stating that gender or ethnic background or religion is irrelevant is irrelevant.

Anyone who believes a competent Supreme Court is made up of deaf, dumb, blind and mute judges is simply ignoring the fact that the court is made up of human beings, appointed by human beings and approved by human beings.


Rather than striving for some sort of science fiction type world, why don't we make an effort to ensure our government reflects the general population?

Tomorrow
May 3, 2009, 09:35 AM
why don't we make an effort to ensure our government reflects the general population?

For the same reason many other professions don't reflect the general population - there's no fundamental reason why it needs to. If it happens to, that's great.

Are you advocating that a certain percentage of senators and congressmen should be uneducated folk from urban inner cities, while a handful of others are bluebloods? Or are you suggesting that a certain number need to be convicted felons or illegal immigrants? And that a certain number must represent each religion? Because that is also our general population.

Nobody really seems to mind that the pool of elementary school teachers and nurses skew female; or that engineers and construction workers skew male; or that hockey players skew white and basketball players skew black. Why do these professions not reflect the general population? My answer to that is, "who cares? As long as the people doing the job are qualified to do so."

If the pool of qualified judges in the country reflects the general population, then your wish makes sense. I don't think anybody here or anywhere else will knock that. I don't have any statistics on this at all, but if the profession happens to draw a very large majority of white males (and I don't know that it does), then that could explain why the court would be made up mostly of white males. If the profession draws upon the general population evenly, then your point is well-taken.

r.j.s
May 3, 2009, 09:38 AM
why don't we make an effort to ensure our government reflects the general population?

We do. Through the election, people elect who they want to represent them. The SCOTUS is not a representative body of the people, it serves only to represent the Constitution.

MikeTheC
May 3, 2009, 11:06 AM
Rather than striving for some sort of science fiction type world, why don't we make an effort to ensure our government reflects the general population?
Well, there goes any chance for a serious discussion. *sigh*