Diversity of Experience?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
by Patrick Dorinson

Today in The Arena on POLITICO

In his statement praising the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said, “I have urged President Obama to look outside the judicial monastery to identify qualified nominees who will bring a diversity of life experience to the Court. Elena Kagan is just such a nominee.”

I don’t know what they’re smokin’ up there on Capitol Hill but it must be awful good stuff.

What diversity of life experience is he talking about?

Did she ever pump gas or wait tables or work on a factory floor or herd cattle? You know Senator Leahy, real life experiences.

She might not come from the judicial monastery but she comes from the monastery just down the road. Her whole career has been in the cloistered world of the East Coast Elitist Monastery of Law, Journalism, Politics and Government that includes the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the newsroom of the New York Times, the Ivy League and the salons of the Washington establishment. I do not consider this to be in Senator Leahy’s words a “diversity of life experience”.

If she is confirmed and barring some horrible revelation she probably will be, every member of the Supreme Court will be products of either Yale or Harvard Law schools. Breyer, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, although she finished up at Columbia, and now Kagan all went to Harvard Law School. Thomas, Sotomayor and Alito are all Yalies. There are enough Harvard grads to have their own branch of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Now I have nothing against the fine institutions of the Ivy League, but can’t we just once find someone who went to a land grant university and has something else in their resume than climbing the legal and political ladder to success?

Diversity on the Supreme Court or in the newsroom or any other place seems to be limited to race, gender and religion.

We have damn little diversity of life experience. Real life experience Senator Leahy.