Monday, May 17, 2010

Diversity on the bench

With the controversies over Elena Kagan, it is worthwhile to discuss diversity in the courts. People often say that since judges should simply apply neutral principles, diversity is not an issue. I consider that opinion to be naïve; while it may be true in an imagined perfect world, we do not live in such a world.

People naturally tend to generalize from their own experience to the entire human population; straight, white, middle- to upper-class men who belong to socially acceptable religions do it at least as much as anyone else does. When I took Constitutional law, I was shocked by judges' readiness to dispose of Constitutional rights in accordance with "findings of fact" based solely on wild speculation about the lives of people with whom they had no contact. If diversity achieves nothing else, it should at least put the brakes on such speculation.

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