Monday, May 10, 2010

It's 6-3, but momentum is shifting

With Elena Kagan's nomination, and likely confirmation, to the Supreme Court, the role of women in public life leaps forward.

Kagan was the first female Solicitor General and the first woman dean of Harvard Law.

This is yet another milestone that is long overdue. As bright as men can be, we will not have true justice in this country until there are five women justices on the Supreme Court.

Women outnumber men in the population and need to outnumber men on the bench.

With Kagan on board there will be six men and three women on the court. Kagan is Jewish, which brings that number up to three, while Catholics hold six seats. We'll likely hear new conspiracy theories about why Protestants are shut out on the high court for the first time ever. Religion shouldn't matter, but it does. We still define and divide ourselves in a number of ways, with religion ranking right behind race.

I don't care what religion she is or that she might be a lesbian as was "whispered" by the media last week. What matters to me is that she continues the progressive and enlightened positions of her predecessor John Paul Stevens. She can't fall into the regressive/reactionary camp of Scalia-Alito-Roberts-Thomas.

And, she must be able to bring the "swing" justice, Anthony Kennedy, over to the progressive side. That'll be her number one job.

Much is being said about her lack of direct judicial experience. Two previous justices without judicial experience happen to be Earl Warren and William Rehnquist, both who became the Chief Justice of the high court. Warren was a visionary justice while Rehnquist was a reactionary one.

Kagan, at 50, could eventually become Chief Justice, but let's all hope she earns her stripes by bringing the law into the 21st Century while fending off attempts to send it back to the 19th Century.

Even though it's not coming as fast or in the manner as most of us would like, change is still coming to America.

And that's a good thing.

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