Orin Kerr snarks about the diverse background of Barack Obama’s shortlist of picks to succeed John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court:
No matter who he chooses, Obama will continue to break new ground, or at least help bolster some of the low numbers of people of certain arguably underrepresented backgrounds on the current Court. For example, Elena Kagan would become only the second former Harvard professor presently on the Court (joining Justice Breyer). Either Kagan or Wood would be only the second Chicago professor (joining Justice Scalia).
….Elena Kagan would also bring notable educational diversity to the Court. Kagan would be the very first Justice ever to have attended Princeton and then Harvard Law. Obviously, that would be a major break after two consecutive nominees who had attended Princeton and then Yale Law (Justices Alito and Sotomayor). Whoever Obama picks, I think it’s clear that Obama faces a major choice and that his selection will be a historic occasion.
Stevens aside, every single justice on the Supreme Court attended an Ivy League law school (Harvard, Yale, or Columbia). It’s an East Coast conspiracy. Where are the candidates from Stanford? Cal? Michigan? Vanderbilt? Or one of those other states west of — well, everywhere. West of Delaware, anyway.
Some years ago, when I was blogging for the Washington Monthly, I remember having a conversation with its editor, Paul Glastris, about the interns they were planning to hire that summer. Basically, to a man and woman, all the good candidates were from East Coast schools. How about Ezra Klein? I said. He’s a good guy and he goes to UCLA. Strike a blow against the Ivy League mafia! And thus history was made.1
Sure, Obama went to Columbia and Harvard Law. But he’s a Hawaii guy at heart, and that’s as West Coast as it gets. So fight the power, O. Be true to your roots. Hope and change means someone from outside the Ivy League.
1Or, um, something like that. Maybe I’m overstating my role a wee bit. But who wouldn’t?