I’ve been criticized for failing to recognize the liberal victories of the Obama administration, and it’s a well-taken criticism. Here’s a good piece from NPR that highlights the Obama administration’s considerable and righteous efforts to make the American federal judiciary a more diverse institution. A justice system can only remain truly fair and impartial if it is made up of professionals who accurately reflect the composition of the nation. The Obama administration has to be commended for making this a priority.
Of course, there’s a Republican dicknose concern trolling.
“The Obama administration doesn’t have a coherent judicial philosophy so it’s not surprising that it’s falling back on diversity, which I think it sees among other things as appealing to its various political constituencies,” says Ed Whelan, a prominent conservative who used to work in the George W. Bush Justice Department.
Unless, of course, you happen to think that increasing diversity to be better representative of this country is a coherent judicial philosophy. That equality under the law was denied to so many classes of people for so long doesn’t change the fact that centuries of jurisprudence have proven the value and inherent justice of giving all constituents adequate representation among the judicial class. This kind of statement is classic GOP dreck, by the way; the idea that democratic republics such as ours have a legitimate interest in promoting the cause of equal representation is just dismissed out of hand. It’s got to be playing to political constituencies, the dread “special interests” that are code for “anybody Republicans don’t like.”
Note that the same Bush administration tool expresses the really important takeaway, to my mind: there is more diversity in large part because “There’s a much bigger pool of minority candidates with lots of legal experience….” It’s depressing, but not surprising, that he can’t see the disconnect here. There’s a much bigger pool of minority candidates with lots of legal experience precisely because of efforts like the one Obama is undertaking. Diversity breeds diversity. Years of affirmative action and other policies designed to give opportunities to underrepresented groups at all levels– law school, clerkships, in DA and public defender offices– have led directly to talented and experience minority candidates who can fill these vacancies and make the courtroom a more equal and fair institution.
Why, you might even say that those programs are helping America to more fully embody its best commitments.