It Should Have Been A Woman

I just watched a very interesting interview on Hannity and Colmes tonight. Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, and Ann Coulter, conservative best selling author. It was, for the most part, a very interesting discussion. Ann (as I've mentioned before on this site) disagrees with the President's nominee, John Roberts. Michael Reagan, however, expressed his trust in President Bush's pick for the Supreme Court.

What struck me in this debate, however, was something Michael said in passing. He said that he'd hoped that the president would have chosen a woman to replace Justice O'Connor.

I am the biggest advocate for women being recognized and given equal opportunities in every sphere of society. I think it's not only good for women but necessary for society to flourish. I think it's just as important for culture today as it is for future generations of Americans. However, I think that we make some dangerous assumptions when we make statements like the one Michael Reagan (and others) have made regarding the selection of a female nominee.

Assumption #1: A woman can't qualify on her merit alone. If our disappointment is in his not choosing a woman, are we claiming that he should have gone against his better judgment in the interest of political correctness and diversity on the Court? Was he supposed to do a woman a favor? Could it be that the best person for the job was not a woman? The issue before the president was not to select the best woman or minority for the Court. It was to select the most qualified candidate, male or female, Caucasian, Latino, African American or other.

If Michael Reagan had argued that the president really did miss it by not appointing the woman because he thought a woman was actually the most qualified candidate, that would be different. But, that is not what he said. It was pretty clear that he wanted a woman to replace the outgoing O'Connor. No thanks, Michael. So glad Bush was, at least in this case, above political correctness.

Assumption #2: A woman will be able to represent and protect women's best interests. I'm not going to delve back into the abortion issue. I wrote several posts about women and abortion in this last week. I know that I am much happier about having Justice Thomas on the Court than I am Justice Ginsberg. Would you believe that there are women are not happy with many of the decisions of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? Some would argue an appointment like that could make matter worse. A woman is not always the best person for the health and prosperity of women in any given situation.

I'm disappointed that in 2005 we're still talking about gender rather than ability, skill and qualifications. If the women's movement achieved so much in making women equal, then why must we continue to bring gender to the forefront of the discussion. If it had succeeded, wouldn't it mean that the opposite would take place? And that we could reserve all the discussions on gender differences for the less emotional, less complicated, less intense issues in life...like relationships :)

I am just one woman. And, this is just my perspective of this particular issue of the day.


At 7/28/2005 03:11:00 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Some people refer to reverse discrimination. That is a contradiction in terms. Discrimination is discrimination. no matter who it affects. I agree with you. I don't care if it is a woman or a man. I just want a justice that will interpret the the language of the constitution. That was the intention when the Supreme Court was created, after all.

At 7/28/2005 03:20:00 AM, Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

You have a good head on your shoulders. The issue you bring up is related to race as well as gender discrimination and preference; for the same reason you disagreed with Michael Reagan's statement, I have a problem with affirmative action.

I would love to see a woman President, someday. But I will not make my decision based upon the candidate's gender (or race). They should be able to stand on their own merits; and I want a candidate who will be FOR THE PEOPLE, without showing a particular favoritism toward an interest group. This is what troubled me right after Villaraigosa won the LA mayoral election. I don't want to deny him his cultural heritage and pride in it; but It irked me that the media made it such an issue to point out how he was the first Latino LA mayor in...what was it again? 130 years? So frickin' what?! Already, it appears to me that he will not be a leader who will go hard on illegals; perhaps it has nothing to do with his ethnic ties, but just his liberal attitudes; but I can't help but wonder, since his Mexican heritage has been made into an issue. Now I find it hard to look at him as my Los Angeles mayor, but as my Latino LA mayor. I don't want racist government leaders who show ethnic loyalties and push legislation that turns this state into Mexifornia.

At 7/28/2005 04:05:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

It is quite the contradiction that groups claiming to want nothing more than equal opportunity proceed to flaunt their minority status as some sort of medal.

What a concept...someone to actually interpret the constitution. Funny how we forget that the job description is in the constitution!

Oh for the day that we simply look to the constitution!

At 7/28/2005 04:41:00 AM, Blogger mlwhitt said...

Mark: True about the discrimination being just that no matter which way it goes. That's one of those terms like "Hate Crimes" that really get me. Aren't all Crimes hate crimes? Sorry didn't mean to get off topic. But like you said Mark, I don't care if it is a man, woman, what color they are as long as they do their best to interpret the constitution. Too bad too many Judges these days are wanting to make law instead of interpret it.

Wordsmith: If Hillary runs in '08 I hope to goodness that Condi will run. I think she is a great canidate, but honestly the main reason is that I would love to get a good laugh out of not only the first woman but the first nonwhite canidate being conservative. For too long the Left Wing has said that we (conservatives) are made up of White Males and don't care about any other sex or race. That's not true, conservatives are made up for all races, creeds and sexes. The problem is that the liberal media never want's to admit this. I have repeatedly voted for Alan Keyes not because he is black but because he is conservative. Why is it that when a black canidate runs on the left side of the fense (Jessie or Al) that they get tons of coverage, yet when a man far more qualified runs under the conservative ticket, the media rushes to hide the fact that he is even running. Sorry I am off topic again. Back on topic I promise...

Lores: I think the main problem is that the Liberals don't even see the constitution anymore. They think that it is outdated and needs to be rewritten. And how do they propose to rewrite it? With judges that hold to their ways of belief. I think the property rights issue that we just saw come up a month ago clearly shows how in danger we are when those appointed overstep their mandate and start trying to reinvent a wheel that is not broke.

Is the constitution perfect? No if it was then it would spell out everything so clearly that it wouldn't even have to be interpeted, just followed. Does that mean that it needs to be changed? No, it just needs to be followed by judges that don't try to add or change, just use common sense when grey areas are entered.

Bush has the Dems though. He got Roberts confirmed at a lower office without any problems, so now there is nothing they left can do but moan and accept it. What a brillant move on his Bush's part. They call him an idiot, but honestly he just thinks outside the box, something they can't do.

At 7/28/2005 04:42:00 AM, Blogger mlwhitt said...

Wow, sorry for that long posting, I got on a rant. Lores your blog really gets the thought process going.... ;)

At 7/28/2005 05:07:00 AM, Blogger Poison Pero said...

I was shocked that Edith Jones wasn't picked.......She's a staunch Conservative, and a long-time ally of GW's.

That said, the more I think about it the more I think a deal is in place.

Renquist wanted his protege on the bench and in his spot as chief.......He has a certain amount of power because he can determine when he retires.

I think he let Bush know this and they made an agreement to have Roberts picked. --> The sure way to guarantee there was no double-cross was for Renquist to stay on the bench, and only retire after Roberts is confirmed.

I will be shocked if this isn't the case, and will be equally shocked if Edith Jones isn't the choice to replace Renquist, with Roberts being bumped up to Chief.

At 7/28/2005 05:56:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Don't apologize, mlwhitt. It's good stuff. I've been thinking about writing about the inevitable Hillary run in '08. This is good warm up! ;)

At 7/28/2005 02:10:00 PM, Anonymous mitya said...

You'll forgive me if I ignore most of your well-reasoned post to pick at one phrase. Let's not get caught up in advertising language by believing that there is a "best candidate" for the job. Do we (you) really believe that of the thousands of judges in the US, that Roberts is somehow objectively "better" than all of them? Hopefully not. Clearly various political/subjective critera were used to bring us to Roberts. And if we start looking at criteria like age, or work history, or life experience (etc), don't you think gender is also a fair criteria?

At 7/28/2005 02:27:00 PM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Good question. My reference to "best candidate" has to do with the combination of a candidate's qualifications, judicial philosophy and his/her ability to get through the confirmation process.

I don't necessarily believe that Roberts is the very best possible judge Bush could have nominated. Here is the one point I do give Ann Coulter. It would have been ideal to get a nominee more like Thomas or Scalia, who might have guaranteed a war of a confirmation process but whose qualifications and judicial philosophy far outweigh the potential drawback of a fight.

Of course, I just heard (on Laura Ingraham this morning) Sen Schumer is saying that no one, himself included, wants a fight.

At 7/28/2005 02:28:00 PM, Blogger Layman said...

For better or worse, I tend towards the latter, identity politics has a long-standing tradition for the Supreme Court. There has long been, softly spoken of, expectations that there always being a Catholic Justice, a Southern Justice, and a Jewish Justice.

Lewis Brandeis served from 1919 to 1939. Benjamin Cardozo from 1932 to 1938. After Cardozo and Brandeis stepped down, Felix Frankfurter served from 1939 to 1962. When he stepped down Arthur Goldberg served from 1962 to 1965. When Goldberg stepped down, Abe Fortas served from 1965 to 1969. Today, Ginsburg and Breyer are the Jewish justices on the Supreme Court.

For Catholics, Taney was Cheif Justice from 1836 to 1864. Then Edward White was Justice and Chief Justice from 1894 to 1921. Joseph McKenna was also a Justice from 1898 to 1925. Thereafter, Pierce Butler served from 1921 to 1939. When he stepped down, William Douglas becamse a Justice from 1939 to 1975. A few other Catholics served in the interim, most notably Justice Brennan until 1990. Then Scalia from 1986 to the present. Thomas and Kennedy are also Catholics.

The match up is not exact, but concern for having at least one of the right everything has been a part of Supreme Court history. I would guess that in the past this had more to do with politics, appealling to various voting blocks. Today, it has more to do with political correctness, incorporating the misplaced assumption -- as Lores points out -- that only a member of the group at issue can ensure protection for that groups rights.

At 7/28/2005 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Daffy76 said...

Lores, I think your blog is just wonderful. We're sort of on the same wavelength today.

I don't agree with Coulter on this one though. Her reason for not liking Roberts is that he's never said anything controversial. Well, that may be true, but the opposite would be more extremist than we need.

My idea of a good supreme court judge is someone who can be objective. Because John Roberts doesn't seem to lean too far one way or the other, I believe he can accomplish objectivity.

At 7/28/2005 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Layman said...

Good question about what is a "qualified" judge. I would agree with Lores' assesment, but think that confirmability--though something that should be considered--may belong in a different category.

And there are two kinds of "qualification."

The first are the basics which everyone should have, such as intelligence, integrity, experience, respect among legal peers. Basically, a good resume plus character.

The second are the President-specific qualifications. For Bush, this means Justices who will interpret rather than create the law. For Clinton, it meant more liberal Justices. Thus, this kind of qualification shifts from President to President.

Considering these two factors, Judge Roberts is certainly at the top of any list as far as the resume/character factors are considered. No one has argued more extensively before the Supreme Court. His experience in government dealt with the "big issues" which the Supreme Court must resolve. He has experience in private practice as well, which I think is important. It is true that he could have more time on the Appellate Court, but this does not concern me much given his widespread experience litigating in the appellate courts. So there can be no dispute that he is one of the most qualified candidates nominated to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.

When it comes to qualifications such as judicial philosophy, there is not as much of a paper trail as we have for Judges Luttig and Clemens. But what we know is very encouraging and indicates a welcome perpsective on judicial restriant and the limitations on powers granted to the government. Does the lack of a paper trail imply that he is less qualified on matters of judicial philosophy? I am not so sure. Remember, Bush has interviewed Roberts. Bush also has access to all those memos Roberts wrote for the Solicitor General's office that some Democrats are breathelessly demanding. For me, I trust the President has done his homework and that Roberts is well qualified in this area.

To the extent we examine confirmability, Roberts is also very well qualified. This is largely due to his resume but perhaps also because of the lack of a discoverable paper trail. Frankly, I think Ann's best point is that the Administration may be passing up an opportunity to have a healthy debate on the proper role of the judiciary, and yes even Roe v. Wade, by confirming an outspoken critic of judicial activism. I do not think she carries the day though. Better to get Roberts confirmed and tilt the Court more towards judicial restraint and then appoint a more outspoken critic of such activism to replace Rehnquist. IMO (= In My Opinion).

At 7/29/2005 01:18:00 AM, Blogger eric cumbee said...

I think that gender should be irrelevant, in choosing a supreme court nominee. a Nominee should be picked based on qualifications, and judicial philosophy.


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