How would the media have reacted had George W. Bush nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court? Besides fainting, of course? Roland Martin of CNN files an pre-emptive slam at his colleagues and at Democrats for a double standard on diversity that focuses not on Kagan’s own identity but on her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School. Martin wonders how Kagan will manage to get a pass for her rather monochromatic hiring record:
If a white Republican president of the United States appointed a white male as his next Supreme Court justice, and upon the inspection of his record, it was discovered that of the 29 full-time tenured or tenured track faculty he hired as dean of Harvard Law, nearly all of them were white men, this would dominate the headlines.
It would be reasonable to conclude that the special interest groups that vigorously fight for diversity — civil rights organizations, feminist groups and other liberal institutions — would be up in arms, declaring that this person’s records showed him unwilling to diversify academia, and unqualified to consider diverse views as one of nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. There would be widespread condemnations of Republicans having no concern for the nonwhite males in America.
But if what if the choice were made by a black Democratic president, and it was a woman? A white woman? A white Democratic woman? …
Guy-Uriel Charles, founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, has heavily scrutinized Kagan’s hiring record as head of Harvard Law School. In a scathing blog post, he has said that of the 29 positions Kagan had a chance to fill, 28 were white and one was Asian-American. And of the group, only six were women — five white and one Asian-American.
This has already started circulating near the surface of the nomination debate in anticipation of Kagan’s nomination, and the White House has already begun its pushback against the meme. Rather than focus on the results of Kagan’s hiring, they argue that Kagan made plenty of offers to people of color and/or women for these positions, but that the people interested in working for Harvard Law School were primarily restricted to white males. Martin says, “Folks, I wasn’t born yesterday,” rejecting the notion that a position at the most prestigious college of law (or second-most prestigious, in the view of Yalies) would be so invaluable that Kagan had to regularly fall back to second and third choices to fill the slots.
Martin also says that Republicans may “rightly” protest at this double standard, especially since Martin thinks the Left will mostly stay silent about it, but Republicans will most likely not make much of an issue about it. It’s worth pointing out for the double standard applied by the media to Republicans as opposed to Democrats, but conservatives don’t believe in using quota systems to establish “diversity” as an end to itself. No one’s going to buy the excuse that Kagan’s first choices all decided to seek work elsewhere, either, but to make this a first-tier argument would be to endorse the bean-counting approach to hiring and the corrosive effects it has on civil rights in the long run.
Could Kagan’s appointment could put an end to this kind of quota seeking as a political tool? It would be nice to think so, but Martin’s more right about the double standard than he thinks. Just as with issues of competency in reaction to crises, the homeless, and spending, the media will always shine a more critical light on Republicans than on Democrats. It’s a double standard that shows no sign of abating.