Supremely Gay Court
Demographic factors always receive a lot of attention in the naming of Supreme Court nominees. The media made a lot of hay over the fact that Bush selected two white males to put on the bench (though slightly less hay than when he tried to put his female B.F.F. there). So it’s not surprising that as Justice Souter has announced his retirement, there is already a lot of speculation that Obama will pick a woman.
Something that has been getting less attention is that one woman considered to be a top contender is a lesbian and has worked for years on the fight for gay rights. Kathleen Sullivan, a professor at Stanford Law, has made most of the top lists produced by the media. Most of these lists just so happened to leave off the fact that she was gay, but there was coverage on GayPolitics.com and on the always-fabulous Politico.
Especially considering that there will certainly be issues facing the gay community coming before the court, and therefore coming up in the confirmation hearings, it is fascinating to think about how an openly gay justice would help to shape the debate. I don’t think Obama would have had a hard time getting an openly gay person appointed to a Cabinet position, for instance, that didn’t really deal directly with gay rights issues. But a Supreme Court nomination would ignite a battle that Obama probably has no interest in starting in the middle of a recession and epidemic involving pigs that I don’t really follow.
Obama has said, however, that he wanted an empathetic choice, and said he wanted justices who could put themselves in the shoes of a single mom or a gay person. Then again, we all know how great politicians are at living up to campaign promises.
I hope that if Obama doesn’t pick Professor Sullivan, he at least picks a woman for the court. Honestly, when I saw the headline “First Openly Gay Justice on the Court?” I thought that if it was a dude, I’d rather have a hetero woman. It’s not terribly offensive to me that the nine member, low-turnover court has never had an openly gay justice; what is disgusting to think about is that women make up a majority of this country’s population and have only one of nine seats, in the year two-thousand-and-fucking-nine. Same could be said for African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and there are some nice choices of women who are also in racial minorities being floated (Judge Sonia Sotomayor is Hispanic and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears is Black.)
All of this goes without saying that demographics aren’t everything. In the end, I would take a far-left white guy over Ann Coulter or her gay and Black but politically-equivalent counterpart (not that I think there is one…) But it’s hard not to think about these things when we’re looking at the nation’s most prestigious unelected hiring procedure.
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