Salazar: Trying to Enshrine the Women's Chair

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The Women’s Chair?

Courtesy Waco Kid!

Catching up with the Women’s Chair meme. Apparently, Justice O’Connor subscribes to the notion. When the Washington Post caught up with her the day after the Roberts nomination, O’Connor replied: “He’s good in every way, except he’s not a woman.”

Another policy-maker pushing this idea that O’Connor’s seat should have been reserved for a woman was Colorado’s Senator Ken Salazar who wrote this letter to the President:

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Senator Ken Salazar(D, CO)

July 20, 2005

Dear President Bush:

. . . The fact you have not selected a distinguished woman in the mold of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is not a reason for disqualification. However, I want to express my disappointment that you have missed an opportunity to help create an America that includes women at all levels of our nation’s government.

If your nominee to the United States Supreme Court is confirmed, the face of the United States Supreme Court, with nine justices, will have only one woman. And in an America that has struggled over her history to include women, I do not believe this is a healthy portrayal of the kind of America we should be building.

Twenty-four years ago, President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman justice of the United States Supreme Court. She served in that role with distinction. Justice O’Connor’s appointment created a milestone in history that was the culmination of the work and struggles of men and women over centuries to ensure that women received fair and equal treatment in America. As we all well know, women were not granted even the right to vote in America until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

You and I both have two daughters. The profound message we should be giving to them is that their gender creates no limitations for them to live up to their God-given potential. Yet, I fear that with the loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from the United States Supreme Court, we are sending the opposite message.

Respectfully,

Ken Salazar

U.S. Senator

cc: Sen. Arlen Specter

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Well, I’ve got three daughters and I would prefer for them not to get the message that their acheivements are based on tokenism and quotas. . .

Via KLO at NRO Bench Memos. . .

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2 Responses

  1. Hmm, I get your point, but nobody is advocating picking just any woman. They’re just saying that, out of the pool of qualified jurists that could have been nominated there were several women that would have made wonderful justices. When women are so unrepresented on the court, why not pick one of them instead of a man? The larger question is, does diversity matter? Do women bring something to the court that men don’t? I think that they do, and that that kind of diversity is healthy for American jurisprudence. To pick someone just for being a woman would be tokenism; to pick a qualified woman over a qualified man when men already outnumber women seven to one is just a matter of good staffing. (I have two daughters, the eldest of whom like to be Ruler of the Universe, if you please).

  2. charmaine says:

    I have two daughters, the eldest of whom like to be Ruler of the Universe

    Smile. Mine, too.

    When women are so unrepresented on the court, why not pick one of them instead of a man? The larger question is, does diversity matter?

    Michael — You make some excellent points. I think we might be largely in agreement.

    Absolutely diversity matters. And I do think that being female brings something intrinsically and uniquely different and important to whatever a woman chooses to do. So sure, being a woman is one legitimate factor that should be entered into the total mix when considering a candidate for the Court, or for some other position.

    My point in the longer “Women’s Chair” piece that I wrote for NRO was related to this vacancy in particular. I’m reacting to the sentiment that we should replace O’Connor with another O’Connor — both in gender and ideology. Salazar in this letter to the President, and others among the women’s groups, are arguing that it should be a woman for this particular chair because a woman was vacating it. And that seems like pernicious reasoning to me.

    My argument is that if you succumb to that mindset for this particular vacancy that a woman won’t be as competitive for the next one, and the next one after that.

    Women will only be truly competitive when they show up on the lists side by side with the men for any and all of the vacancies.

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