When you're not the 'right' type of different.
New Jersey has always been known as the Garden State but, at least with respect to the judicial branch, it’s starting to look like a Banana Republic.
As Matt Katz noted in the Inquirer this week, state Democrats, who resent having to live in Christie-dom, are opposing the governor’s picks for the Supreme Court. It’s not because the nominees barely passed the bar. It’s not because they’re convicted felons, partisan hacks or ethically challenged. The reason that Chris Christie’s nominees to the high court are being criticized is because they aren’t the right type of ‘diverse.’
We all know about diversity. It’s the thing that makes liberals smile, provides them with a life’s purpose, gives song to the tweeting bluebirds and paints rainbows across the progressive sky. To those who believe that Martin Luther King Jr. actually said “the content of my character is less important than the color of my skin, the vowels at the end of my name or the state of my interior plumbing,” diversity is a way to make sure that merit is only skin deep.
According to Katz, Christie has nominated two men to replace vacancies on the Supreme Court, both of whom annoy the quota crew. David Bauman, a judge on the Superior Court, is the son of a Japanese mother and a Caucasian father and would be the first Asian American on the high court. Robert Hanna, president of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities, is white. Neither are female, neither are African American, neither are Latino. And therein lies the rub. Vocal members of all three constituencies have attacked the nominees simply because they aren’t the correct sort of ‘diverse.’ Let’s put aside the fact that no one really cares about their judicial philosophies. While being a conservative is not the kind of ‘diversity’ that ever makes the jurisprudential wish list among Democrats and their friends in the bar associations and academe, some liberals hold their noses and, sometimes, accept an ideological outlier when they have no other choice. Clarence Thomas comes to mind.
What really upsets Christie’s opponents is the fact that neither Bauman nor Hanna is black, brown, or female. It’s a sign of just how far we’ve traveled from the Reverend King’s belief in equality of spirit that those who oppose the court nominees aren’t even ashamed of saying things like “The package is not ideologically or ethnically diverse.” That little tidbit came from Frank Argot-Freyre, president of the Latino Action Network. But this was mild compared to comments made by Ronald Rice, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus who, with breathtaking arrogance, implied that Christie wanted to keep minority appointments to one seat by essentially reserving “that spot for y’all.” To him, putting an Asian American on the bench instead of a Black or Latino was tantamount to “diminishing the growth of diversity.”
Not to be outdone in the chutzpah department (that was a multicultural nod to my Jewish readers,) a Rutgers-Camden law professor named Robert Williams makes the case that you need to have the ‘right’ kind of minorities on the bench because “it’s a feeling of belonging and being represented.”
So let’s review, class. We don’t go to law school just to learn about the law. We spend three years studying the Constitution, including the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, and then we go out into the world and put our esoteric skills to practice with real people with real problems just so we can contribute to a system that gives advantage to skin color, race and gender. That little old thing called the Emancipation Proclamation which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year didn’t really mean that all men are created equal regardless of their external and immutable attributes. Sorry if you misunderstood. It actually meant that we are only as equal as society ultimately determines. And that worked so well under Jim Crow.
What is appalling and galling about this “Jersey Way” of picking judges is that it is no different than what the Sopranos perfected (that was a multicultural nod to my Italian readers.) There is this sense that unless Christie accommodates the unacceptable demands of some eternally aggrieved minorities, they will hold his court hostage in much the same way they did when blocking the prior nominations of Bruce Harris who was both black and gay, and Philip Kwon who was Korean-born. While you might say that the rejection of both nominees shows that minority groups are able to reject their own when necessary (the ‘necessary’ being a person whose judicial philosophy is anything to the right of Karl Marx,) it is actually proof that they will ignore the substantive qualifications of nominees if they aren’t the ‘right’ kind of minority i.e. someone who not only has the right color, ethnicity and gender but is also liberal.
If this keeps up, New Jersey should have its state seal redesigned by Chiquita.