by Patrick Appel
Many of the events that have broken down (or erected) religious, gender and racial barriers in America have occurred as a result of court opinions. The court has corrected a number of the historic disadvantages faced by certain groups that Mr Clarke says are worth correcting. If these groups had been better represented amongst the justices in the past, the changes may have come quicker. So, for the sake of opportunity, I'd say it's useful to try to make sure historically disadvantaged groups are represented on the court, as long as the quality of the court is not degraded as a result.
Now, that doesn't necessarily default into an argument for racial diversity, over religious or gender diversity. Disadvantaged groups come in all forms and one has to take stock of time and place. But right now, in America, the pick of a Latino woman seems like a pretty good choice.
But doesn't the near abolishment of de jure discrimination for certain groups almost always proceed their selection to this type of high office? I'm not arguing that racism or sexism don't still exist (they certainly do), but Sotomayor's nomination would have been much more significant fifty years ago when large contitutional questions about race and sex remained. Ricci is fairly minor when compared other decisions regarding descrimination.