A hot topic of conversation is who the President will name to the Supreme Court. I’ve been speculating since Justice Souter announced his retirement.
Perhaps it is more exciting for me, because Justice Souter was named with certain expectations—that he defied. He was supposed to be firmly on the right, but instead turned out to be above ideological orthodoxy. His performance was a surprise and makes us all remember that even if you know a judge’s political preferences, that doesn’t necessarily dictate their rulings. Supreme Court Justices should be chosen with particular care.
President Obama says he is looking for “someone who understands justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives.” That sounds good, but we’ll have to wait and see what that actually means when he names his pick.
Today, speculation is that Judge Diane Pamela Wood, of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, is the forerunner. Of course, she isn’t commenting. But, we know that she is one of the six previously reported to be in the running. Of the six, five are women and one is of Puerto Rican descent.
I expect Obama to name a minority to the Supreme Court. To be more explicit, I expect him to name a woman and/or a person of color. I think it’s a wonderful idea and a necessary choice. Justices Ginsburg and Thomas don’t exactly make the Court diverse.
My concern is that there aren’t more judges for Obama to choose from. I find it sad that the list was narrowed down to one man, four white women, and one latino woman so quickly. America is not a melting pot. It is made up of many different ethnicities that should be reflected in the highest court of this land.
I understand that the President has to act quickly. And, I he will make a good (or at least okay) choice that takes into account the probable length of time the Justice will serve (the person better be someone we want to have a vote for many years to come).
Perhaps future generations will see more judges of color achieving status in the judiciary, motivated by the election of a black President. But, I wish the President had more choices right now.
UPDATE: Sonia Sotomayor, a woman of Puerto Rican descent, was nominated by President Obama today, May 26. Congratulations, Judge!