We need more diversity in diversity
This report from the Alliance for Justice is eye-opening. Apparently, virtually the entire judiciary is made up of former prosecutors and corporate lawyers. gosh, I wonder why we see rampant corporatism and authoritarianism in our judicial system?
Nan Aron wrote this piece for TPM explaining why it's important to have professional diversity on the courts:
Diversity of professional backgrounds matters for the same reasons as racial or gender diversity. Like all human beings, judges are the product of their background and experiences, including their professional lives before taking the bench. When a judge decides whether a claim is “plausible,” or whether a witness is “credible,” or whether police officers, when they stopped and searched a pedestrian, acted “reasonably,” her determination is necessarily colored by the nature of her work as a lawyer up to that point. And when an individual who has faced workplace discrimination, contaminated drinking water, or civil rights violations by police enters a courtroom, her faith that she will get a fair hearing is enhanced by a judiciary that includes judges who once represented people like her.
Sadly, this kind of diversity has been valued even less than diversity of race,gender or sexual orientation. President Obama hasn't been any worse than any other president on this score. But he certainly hasn't been any better:
As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) put it at a forum Alliance for Justice sponsored on the issue in February, “It matters that someone has represented people other than corporate clients, that they’ve had real experience with people who can’t afford lawyers, that they’ve had real experience trying to fight for the public interest …. It matters where you come from.”
I actually think this definition of diversity would be helpful in some other fields as well. Certainly politics and journalism would be enriched by having a more people with substantial life experience other than ivy league educations and social climbing. But it is an absolute necessity in the judiciary. These prosecutors and corporate lawyers have a singular worldview that transcends their party affiliation. And let's just say that the interests of the average middle class Joe or a member of the working poor are pretty abstract compared to the interests of the police apparatus or the moneyed elites.