Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's the Point of Diversity on the Supreme Court?

by Conor Clark

Yesterday's New York Times op-ed page published a bunch of possible confirmation questions for Sonia Sotomayor. Here's one from blogger and law professor Ann Althouse:

If a diverse array of justices is desirable, should we not be concerned that if you are confirmed, six out of the nine justices will be Roman Catholics, or is it somehow wrong to start paying attention to the extreme over-representation of Catholicism on the court at the moment when we have our first Hispanic nominee?

Andrew Gelman responds by observing that Catholicism has been historically underrepresented on the Court: "We've had 12 Catholics, 7 Jews, 1 unaffiliated, and 89 Protestants" in the Court's history. (The single unaffiliated justice -- in case you're wondering, as I was -- is Daniel Davis, who was also Lincoln's campaign manager.) But while Gelman's data is interesting, and while I love interesting data, I also think it somewhat misses the point of Althouse's question. (read more)

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