EDITORIAL: Court should not have race, gender quotas

It’s safe to say, at this point, that the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court is pretty much a foregone conclusion. After successfully navigating the choppy waters of the Senate hearings two weeks ago, he easily made it through the Judiciary Committee’s vote with only a handful of far-left Democrats in opposition to an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Most Senate Democrats have pledged their support for Roberts, with only a small contingent of the usual hard-line liberals voicing opposition – Senators Kennedy, Biden, Leahey, etc.

The only remaining obstacles to Roberts’ appointment are more or less considered formalities, and one would expect, under normal circumstances, that the end to this melodrama would halt debate about the Supreme Court for some time. But au contraire; far from closing discussion about the Supreme Court, the appointment of a new Chief Justice seems to be opening a whole new can of worms. Now that Roberts is out of the way, most have turned their attention to the prospective nominees who will take the place of retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The list is a long one at this point, and it’s nearly impossible to get a feel for exactly which candidates will make the short list. Nevertheless, some insist that Bush’s nominee to replace Justice O’Connor ought to fulfill certain criteria: Namely that the nominee should either be a woman, a minority, or both. Some suggest this would lend balance to the court; that appointing someone with “real-world experience,” whatever that is, would be preferable to appointing another boring white male.

The danger in this line of thinking cannot be overestimated. As Judge Roberts astutely pointed out during his confirmation hearings, one’s personal experience should not have any bearing on their jurisprudence. It is this idea which the black robes of the court symbolize – all personality is set aside, and the rule of law is interpreted in its own light. In theory, the court is supposed to be above such petty concerns, above personal experience, above personal interest, above working for the agenda of a particular person or group of people, no matter how just the cause may seem.

Essentially, the court is designed to be above everything but the law itself. Advocates of gender and race requirements for nominees ignore this idea, and seek appointments to the court that have not preservation of the Constitution in mind, but rather their own private agenda. To appoint a member to any branch of the federal judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, based on race or gender or any other factor negates the role of the court; that is, a disinterested and unbiased interpretation of the law, devoid of any advocacy of any particular group.

The best way to ensure a fair and balanced Supreme Court is not through racial or gender-based appointees, but through the selection of individuals that will vigorously assert the primacy of rights outlined in the Constitution. To do otherwise would not signal a step forward for justice and equality, but rather a dramatic step back for all citizens who value and understand the overwhelming importance of a federal judiciary that understands its role in American government.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.