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Opening Arguments

No diversity required

Sonia Sotomayor is still trying to sell her "Supreme Court needs diversity" schtick:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the Supreme Court has too many law professors, too many Ivy Leaguers, too many East Coasters and a lack of diverse life experience.

“It’s a real problem,” Sotomayor said last week at North Carolina’s Davidson College.

The outcome of cases might be no different if experiences on the court were more varied, yet diversity is very important, Sotomayor said during a 45-minute question-and-answer session marked by her signature stroll through the audience and picture-taking with the questioners.

“The breadth of experience ensures that in every single case, people are going to ignore an approach, an argument, a point of view simply because they don’t understand it. It ensures that every argument is aired,” Sotomayor said. Sotomayor is one of three women on the current court, as well as the first Latina justice.

The justices have sparse experience in civil rights, state law and smaller legal practices, Sotomayor said.

“My colleagues think it doesn’t make a difference, but I think the absence of life experience generally on the court is a bad thing,” she said. Also on her list: the lack of anything other than Catholics and Jews.

You may have noticed (she obviously didn't) that her own remarks undercut her position. If the "outcome of cases might be no different," then what's the point of achieving diversity? Actually, I think this is another area in which the divergence in constitutional approaches comes in. If you're some sort of originalist (as I am), then diversity certainly doesn't matter. You look at the constitution, look at the law to judge its constitutionality, then, bing, bang, bing, you make your ruling and go home. But if you're one of them danged "living Constitution" types, then you need to figure out how to tiwst and turn the document to fit "contemporary" standards, and you do need a diverse bunch of people being sensitive to the aches and paines of all kinds of subgroups.

I do agree with her that the current nine justices don't have a lot of breadth when it comes to life experiences. Not many of them have the kind of backgrounds most of us can relate to. But that just means they're not the kind of people I'd probably like to hang out with. It has nothing to do with whether I trust them with my Constitution.