Monday, May 10, 2010

a beautiful resume

Today the Obama administration announced its pick to fill Justice Stevens' seat. The pick is relatively non-controversial; Elana Kagan is a legal scholar who has written on only a few conroversial topics. She served as the dean of Harvard Law school, and while she was there she was a consensus builder, bringing faculty from both sides of the political spectrum together. She defended her conservative colleagues. For the past year she has represented the United States as the solicitor general before the Supreme Court. In short, she is an accomplished woman who has had an amazing career. And did I mention she's only 50?

Today when I was on facebook (which was my first mistake), I noticed several comments about Kagan's nomination. They weren't about her support of a compromise on language in an abortion bill or her opinion that the courts should maintain judicial review over Guantanamo. All of the comments were about her looks, the apparent consensus being that she isn't a particularly attractive person. Being a looker, as we all know, is an important qualification for being a judge in the highest judicial body in the country.That being the case, maybe Chief Justice Roberts' aesthetic credentials should be revisited. Or maybe we should evaluate the way we value people, particularly women. I don't recall any other nominee conjuring such ridiculously irrelevant observations. Elena Kagan will most likely be confirmed, and when she is, I will celebrate because an amazingly qualified person just became the fourth woman ever confirmed to the Supreme Court, and, for the first time ever, there will be three women serving at the same time.

You can hear a few interviews with Elena Kagan here.


  1. I saw the same thing on FB. But it's not like Ruth B. Ginsberg is a porn star. What's with the new emphasis? But I do remember Janet Reno being subject to ridicule. Even now on "What Not To Wear," they make fun of all "Janet Reno Jackets." And I do laugh. Loved seeing you the other night. :)

  2. Wardrobe is fair game as far as I'm concerned. (But men in public life definitely have it easier in that department - any tie will do, really.) I agree with the basic premise on WNTW that a person should present him/herself well because first impressions are necessarily based on the visual. The issue of judging women (or anyone) primarily on appearance and secondarily on qualifications is messed up - during the 2008 primaries there were stories about whether the country was ready to watch a woman get old in office . . . as if we haven't been watching men get old since the camera was invented.