RALEIGH — With the nomination of Samuel Alito some liberals are bemoaning the choice of another “white male” by President Bush for the Supreme Court, but in doing so they’ve revealed their own ideological and racial biases.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized the pick because he said adding Alito “would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys’ club.” He also griped because the president “for the third time…has declined to make history by nominating the first Hispanic to the court.”
Nelson Castillo, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, said, “In this land of immigrants, it is crucial that America’s highest court reflect the rich diversity of its citizens.”
And Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus said the court as presently constituted — with only one female, one African-American, and no Hispanic — wasn’t much better than an all-white, all-male Supreme Court.
Like the aforementioned few, most who complained about Alito for diversity reasons were bothered that the president declined to nominate a Latino, and to a lesser degree a woman. However, some Hispanics like the choice of Alito.
“He has a reputation as a brilliant jurist from the many opinions issued in his 15 years as a United States Circuit Judge,” said Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican.
“His brilliance and judicial temperament are complemented by a depth and breadth of experience unparalleled in recent history,” said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. So who do we believe?
And in contrast to Ms. Marcus, women like Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas also approved of the Alito choice. Undoubtedly many more American women agree.
But even if we grant that the diversity advocates’ concerns are legitimate, can they really complain that Alito’s background doesn’t fit their vision? For example, what if the president did choose one of the two most-often mentioned Latino prospects for the Court: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Emilio Garza. Is their ancestry significantly different from Alito’s?
Both men are Mexican-Americans, but were born in…San Antonio, Texas. Meanwhile two of those dreaded “white males” for the Court — Alito and current Justice Antonin Scalia — are Italian-Americans born in Trenton, N.J., but whose fathers emigrated from their home country. So is the diversity issue about when your preceding kin reached the U.S., or about which direction they came from? And which of those four is more qualified than the others to represent an ethnically diverse perspective?
The answer is none of them, because the diversifiers’ argument is a facade for the real complaint that they have, which is ideology. The proof is in recent news events.
One example is the filibuster threat earlier this year that Democrats held over two Bush nominees for the appeals courts: Janice Rogers Brown, who is black, and Priscilla Owen (who is not). Despite offering the potential to advance diversity, the president was so browbeaten by Democrats about the two women that he ignored them for the Supreme Court. That proved that the diversifiers’ top priority isn’t race or gender.
But it would have been a fascinating test if Brown had been the nominee, especially after a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial this week, which said Justice Clarence Thomas “deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America.” Would Brown have faced similar barbs?
Lest you think that is an aberration, consider the nasty attacks by black Democrats in Maryland against Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, also black and running for U.S. Senate as a Republican. He has been pelted with Oreo cookies and called an “Uncle Tom” at campaign appearances. A liberal website depicted Steele as a black-faced minstrel with a headline that said, “Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house,” according to a Washington Times report.
“Party trumps race, especially on the national level,” said state Sen. Lisa Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat who justified the malice towards Steele.
After this behavior, conservatives can all have a good chuckle next time someone like Reid or Gladden cries “white guy” and blames “the radical right wing of the Republican Party” over a nominee they don’t like. Diversity means nothing to them if it isn’t accompanied by liberal ideology.
The president shouldn’t have bothered to try satisfying them in the first place. They are beyond gratification.