Justice Elena Kagan gave a talk at the University of Tennessee recently and made what should be an entirely mundane and unsurprising statement, that part of the reason she’s on the Supreme Court is because of President Obama’s commitment to putting more women on the court.
“And to tell you the truth, there were also things that I got because I was a woman. I mean I’m not sure I’d be sitting here,” Kagan said, according to a CNS News report.
“I’m not sure that I would’ve been President Obama’s nominee if I weren’t a woman,” she said. “And if he wasn’t as committed as he was to ensuring that there was diversity on the Supreme Court.”
“So, mostly what I think when I think about this question is how far we’ve come and how much I owe — and all the women who have come after me owe – to people like Justice Ginsburg and Justice O’Connor,” she said.
And the wingnuts, of course, are freaking out over it:
The admission of a sex-based decision on the part of President Obama lends credence to pro-life arguments that he was looking to pack the court with pro-abortion activists rather than selecting the most qualified judge for an open seat on the highest court.
All of this is quite silly. First of all, the notion that there is a “most qualified judge” for a Supreme Court seat is absurd. And the notion that Kagan is not supremely qualified for the position is even more absurd. You’d be hard pressed to find someone with better credentials for the job. But an impressive CV is only one part of why a president nominates someone for the court. There are obviously other considerations at play.
There is a list of highly qualified potential nominees, a few dozen at least, that each party has in place when a nomination comes up. That list is then narrowed down to a handful of potential nominees that are thoroughly vetted and usually interviewed by the president, who then makes the decision. Is gender one factor in that decision? Of course it is. Just like it was with Reagan, who insisted on naming the first woman to the court in 1981.
And of course the Democrats are going to nominate people they think are pro-choice, just like Republicans are going to nominate people they think are anti-choice. When either side tsk tsks over the other side having a litmus test, one can only laugh; they both do it, and any pretense otherwise is patently absurd. That they like to pretend otherwise can only increase the laughter.