It pays to have more women on the Supreme Court

photo via Talking Points Memo

photo via Talking Points Memo

The proponents of a colorblind, gender-blind, whatever else-blind outlook on the world don’t just undermine attempts to identify and rectify discrimination. They also ignore the valuable perspective one can bring from experiencing American culture as someone other than a straight white man.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor was pilloried in some corners for her acknowledgement of this reality during her confirmation process. She pointed out that “ a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” and then had to listen to a bunch of white men tell her how racist she was.

 

This week’s Supreme Court arguments on whether corporations can claim a religious freedom objection to covering women’s contraception provided a wonderful display of how having that variety of experience on the court can be crucial:

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6 comments

  1. This post made me realize that often, when people say that a perspective needs to be unbiased, what it really means is conforming to the white male norm. Why do we assume that the men on the court are “unbiased” while those who may have a stake in the decision (women, obviously) will exhibit a biased judgment affected by their own experiences and opinions? Newsflash, people — both the men and women are judging based on their own experiences. It’s almost impossible not to do so. The only difference is that white male opinions tend to be considered unbiased because they reflect the accepted worldviews of our patriarchal society.

    -C

    1. Great point. You heard a lot of discussion about that in the context of whether LGBT judges should rule on marriage equality. Anything that’s not the straight, white male norm is considered biased. The fact is, you can’t really be truly objective, you’re always going to be informed by your experiences.

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