So the American media has decided to get pre-emptively offended about the possibility that Obama might nominate a Supreme Court judge who is not white and male because it might be a good idea to have a judge on the Supreme Court who is not white and male. (Post-Redding v. Safford Unified School District I’m not sure how anybody could be opposed to the idea of more women on the Supreme Court, but then again I live in a country where half the Supreme Court is female anyway.)
Others have already pointed out that the Supreme Court is not exactly a diverse body (seven old white guys, one old black guy and one old white lady, all of whom went to either Harvard or Yale, all of whom served as an appeals court judge) and that diversity in a judicating body is actually, you know, a good thing because breadth of experience allows a judiciary to consider more perspectives with greater fluency. But people arguing this as good reason to not worry about the needs of the white guy – and bear in mind that I am a white guy – are wasting their breath, not just because those determined to complain about quotas and affirmative action will do so regardless of reason or fact, but because it’s an irrelevant argument.
This can’t be repeated enough: at this high a level of competency, there is never, ever a “best candidate.” There isn’t even a “best candidate whose political beliefs are ideologically akin to my own and who is not likely to stray from those beliefs.” There is always going to be a list, and if you’re picking a candidate from that list they’re almost certainly going to be qualified for the position.1 The idea that you can pick the best candidate out of the pack is a fantasy, and almost universally it’s a fantasy exercised by white people who get upset about the specter of affirmative action. It’s time to get over that fantasy and just make the court a more diverse institution that at least somewhat reflects the composition of its people, because there is no Better White Guy Judge waiting in the wings who will be a de facto better choice than the Black Guy Judge, Hispanic Lady Judge, or Asian Eunuch Judge.
- Just because I think Antonin Scalia is ideologically dishonest doesn’t mean he’s not qualified to be a Supreme Court judge. He’s just a bad one. [↩]