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“I respectfully dissent.” April 11, 2010

Posted by Paige of Quarrel in we're only gonna die.
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The retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens from the Supreme Court  really got me thinking about how people of my generation have come to expect the Court to look a certain way: at least one justice with no religious affiliation; always four or five women; at least two justices who were never legally married, one of them lesbian or gay.  We’ve almost come to take it for granted.

Oh, wait!  That’s what the Court would look like if it actually represented the population of the US.  Silly me.  I forgot that it’s nearly impossible in this country to hold office if you’re not religious (despite the fact that 17% of the country isn’t), or single (despite the fact that a quarter of adults never legally marry), or queer, and well, we can’t even manage to get an accurate estimate of the queer population because that’s so damned controversial.  Sure, it’s true that two thirds of the justices are Roman Catholic while only one in four Americans belong to that faith.  Never mind that there are ten times as many people with no religious affiliation as there are Jewish people in the US.

Because, obviously, the Supreme Court, the most small “c” conservative branch, doesn’t represent the population of the country.  It represents the power structure of the US.  Hell, all the remaining justices went to Ivy League law schools and half went Ivy League for undergrad as well.  Every one of them was a US Appeals Court judge, half from the DC Circuit alone.

Politicos left and right are fundraising and gearing up for another vicious confirmation battle.  And believe me, I know how crucial it is, I know how urgent it is, but at the same time, I can’t help but think that if Obama nominates any one other than a liberal lesbian atheist who never attended Harvard and isn’t a federal judge, it’s not going to do anything to improve the make-up of the highest court in the land.  The best we can realistically hope for is a woman who’s probably to the right of Stevens.

Who knows? Maybe Scalia will take another hunting trip with Cheney soon.