As a connoisseur of American conservatism’s problematic relationship with race, I had a lot of fun during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation fight. Thus in that sense, I’m a bit saddened that the leading names being bandied about to fill the vacancy left by John Paul Stevens are all white people. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with white people (indeed, some of my best friends are white) but if I had my druthers, all high-profile confirmation controversies would be about non-whites. So I’m intrigued by Jonathan Zasloff’s notion of putting Newark Mayor Corey Booker on the bench even though it’s not going to happen.
At any rate, every time a Supreme Court seat comes open about 25% of the pundits in America point out that it would be nice to see Presidents put up some more people who are “politicians with legal experience” rather than appellate judges or whoever’s solicitor general at the moment. But this is one of these things that pundits say not just because it makes for an easy column topic but also because it’s actually true! The Supreme Court is a substantially political court. The whole discourse and atmospherics around the way Court nominees are currently selected and confirmed has become a terrible farce, and the pretense that it’s just about picking people who are really good at looking up what the law is in books is a big part of the problem.