Monday, May 10, 2010

Judges and Media and Liberals and Diversity

The president nominated Elena Kagan to be a Supreme Court Justice today. This is disappointing to me on a number of levels. I do not mind justices serving the court who have not had any experience as judges. I do not like it that a judge gets nominated to the Supreme Court because of her abilities as a politcal activist. Kagan's nomination seems a lot like Bush's nomination of Hariet Miers. Of all the issues I agree or disagree with President Obama on, I disagree with him most when it comes down to Supreme Court Nominations.

What bothers me the most about Kagan's nomination it reflects the monocultural focus of the liberal power elite. Most specifically, I believe that most of the recent nominations of Supreme Court justices reflect a narrow bias toward progressives located on the Eastern Seaboard.

Sonia Sotmayor--born in the Bronx in New York City. Lives in New York City.
Elena Kagan--born in New York City. Also served in Boston and Washington DC
Former Justice David Souter--Born Melrose, Mass. Served in New Hampshire and DC.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg--born in Brooklyn, NY. Also served in DC Circuit court
Samuel Alito--Born Trenton NJ. Served NJ courts
Antonin Scalia--Born Trenton NJ. Raised Queens in NYC, Served VA courts
Steven Breyer--serving in Massachussets at time of Nomination

Exceptions:
Soon to be former justice Stephens: Born and served in Chicago.
Justice Clarence Thomas: Born in Georgia (in south but still eastern seaboard), DC Circuit
Kennedy--California

The greatest exceptions to the rule were during the Reagan era, when O'Connor was nominated and Renquist promoted.

Also there is a considerable lack of religious diversity on the Supreme Court. The greatest number of Americans are Protestants, and Baptists have the largest denominational share of membership. Yet, the court does not reflect the religious mosaic of America. Instead it reflects a narrow group of Roman Catholics and people of the Jewish faith:

Roman Catholic--Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Kennedy
Jewish--Ginsberg, Breyer, Kagan (nominated)
Protestant--Stephens (retiring)

No Protestants adjudicating law in a nation that is at least half Protestant? Does that reflect the diversity of our country? Does 0 justices nominated in the last 20 years that lived West of the Mississippi truly reflect America?

You can also see this lack of diversity in the cable news racket. East Coast folks and California raised people find their way to be news folks. Others dont. Also, I could not find one person on cable news that affiliates with any Protestant Christian group.

See this example:

FOX
Hannity--born NY. Roman Catholic
O'Reilly--born NY. Roman Catholic


MSNBC--
Chris Matthews--born Philly. Roman Catholic
David Gregory--born LA. Jewish.
Keith Olbermann--born NYC. Unitarian.
Ed Shultz--born Norfolk Virginia
Rachel Maddow--born near San Jose, CA. raised Roman Catholic.
Tim Russert (deceased)--New York State. Roman Catholic.

CNN
Anderson Cooper--born NYC.
Wolf Blitzer--raised in Buffalo, NY. Jewish.
Larry King--born NYC. raised Jewish.

EXCEPTIONS
Greta Van Sustren--from Wisconsin. Scientologist
Glenn Beack--from Seattle suburbs. Mormon.

Is there anything wrong with having either Roman Catholics or Jews in journalism? Of course not! But I think a quick survey of our leaders on the Supreme Court and in the media shows something important.

What this shows is that our ideas of diversity are very narrow. Espcially when it comes to industry and power held by an east coast elite. American law and media is being shaped by a very insulated group of folks shaped more by their geographic identity and religious identification than by a reflection of America as a whole.

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