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The Diversity Scam and the Supreme Court

Our obsession with diversity has produced a governing class of monolithic sameness.

3:40 PM, May 10, 2010 • By JAMES PIERESON
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This is a particularly striking aspect of the modern Court when one considers that in the past justices frequently ascended to their positions from elected offices. Earl Warren, for example, was previously Attorney General and Governor of California and Republican candidate for Vice-President in 1948. Frank Murphy, appointed by FDR, came to the Court after serving as Mayor of Detroit and Attorney General and Governor of Michigan. Chief Justice Taft served a term as president before being elevated to the Supreme Court. Such backgrounds were common among justices until relatively recently when considerations of legal training and ideology replaced those of regional representation and political experience.

It is little wonder with such insular backgrounds that justices of the Supreme Court should be tempted to lay down the terms of existence for 300 million Americans. This is an exaggeration, of course, since there are distinguished members of the Court who dispute any such pretensions. Nevertheless, the temptation to do so is ever-present and the source of it is not difficult to fathom. The justices of the Court have attended the best schools where they received top grades, have gotten ahead in a competitive profession, and have constantly been told how intelligent they are. They represent a law school culture in which the law is conceived in terms of logical arguments alloyed with good intentions. The everyday world of most Americans is thoroughly foreign to such a culture. And thus it is naïve to think that, given where they came from, the justices would disdain the opportunity to make the law—and even to make it up when they can.

It is wonderfully ironic that this is the world that has been given to us by more than thirty years of diversity mongering on college campuses and law schools. The more diverse or egalitarian we claim to be, the less diverse and representative we become in practice. The same trend that we observe on the Supreme Court is evident as well among our recent presidents and presidential candidates, all of whom seem to arise from common educational backgrounds among elite undergraduate institutions or Ivy League law schools. So it is that our obsession with diversity and difference has at length produced a governing class of monolithic sameness whose members are increasingly out of touch with the citizens for whom they propose to legislate.      

James Piereson is president of the William E. Simon Foundation and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism.

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