Arlen Specter On Face The Nation
Senator Arlen Specter appeared on Sunday's Face the Nation and was asked by host Bob Schieffer: How do you come down on that? What kind of person do you think President Obama ought to nominate to the court? He responded (from transcript, in pdf) in part:
I’d like to see more diversity. I think another woman would be good. I think that ultimately maybe now we need an Hispanic. African-Americans are un-- underrepresented.
Specter's point raises a whole lot of possibilities. There are, by this count 12Jewish United States Senators (it really doesn't matter, does it?). That would be 12% of that body, far greater than the roughly 1.7% in the population. Decrease the number of Jews in the United States Senate? That would be up to the electorate and the suggestion therefore is silly, unless it would be accomplished by the replacement of Arlen Specter by a real Democrat.
But how about on the Court- which is not subject to popular election- itself? Currently, there are two Jews, 5 Roman Catholics, and 2 Protestants- including the outgoing (not in terms of personality, for sure) Souter. Contrast this to the American population as a whole, now approximately 51.3% Protestant, 23.9% Roman Catholics, and 1.7% Jewish.
Should we endeavor to make the Court reflect the population of the people it serves? Perhaps limit our search for Associate Justice Souter's replacement to qualified Protestants (of whatever color), casting aside Roman Catholics and Jews until such time as Protestants are better represented?
Is this idiotic? Is it unnecessarily restrictive? Is it an analogous proposition? Yes, yes, and yes. Sure, there is a greater likelihood of African-Americans bringing a different perspective to the Court because of their background (one which reflects their experiences, and status in society) than would Protestants. Then consider Clarence Thomas, who is relatively indistinguishable from most white, conservative Republicans. And unlike race (e.g., black) or national origin (e.g., African-American)- which are inherited characteristics- religion is at least somewhat a choice.
Maybe all this consideration of demographic factors is a waste of time and injurious to the cause of justice in the nation. And that would be the point.
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