SCOTUS: Where’s the Diversity?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


This week, the Congressional Black Caucus kicked off its campaign to move a woman or person of color into Justice John Paul Stevens’s Supreme Court seat once he retires. On the nine-member Supreme Court, there are: two women (22%) in a nation where women are 50.7% of the general population, one black justice (11%) in a country where African-Americans are 12.8% of the population, and one Latina (11%) even though Latinos are the fastest growing minority population (currently 15.4%). The high court’s gender disparity is the most glaring, and Caucus chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) urged Obama to consider these inequalities when making his high court nominations.

Recently, a report (PDF) by the Congressional Hispanic Staffers Association (CHSA) found that Congress’s diversity stats aren’t that great either. From The Hill:

Of the 199 offices that responded to the study conducted by the House’s chief administrative officer (CAO), 7.5 percent of chiefs of staff were black, 2.7 percent were Hispanic, 1.6 percent were Asian and 1.1 percent were American Indian. There were no Pacific Islanders. Those numbers lag far behind the racial makeup of the United States population, which the Census Bureau estimated to consist of about 35 percent minorities. Those numbers, which came after the 2000 census, specifically break down to 12.5 percent Latino, 12.3 percent African-American, 5.5 percent some other race, 3.6 percent Asian and 1 percent American Indian.

This news spurred Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to launch a new House-wide initiative that increases the hiring and retention of diverse candidates. The initiative includes a “résumé bank” that targets the employment and promotion of congressional staff candidates who are not white as well as a diversity-oriented awareness program. CHSA also wants qualified, interested minority candidates to be among those interviewed when top-level job vacancies are available, a policy which hasn’t been implemented yet.

Can a relatively homogeneous governing body render decisions that reflect the heterogeneous backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints of the US population? Stephanie’s Citizen’s United article basically spells out the answer to that one. Will a visibly diverse SCOTUS and Congress represent the socio-economic needs of minorities? Maybe not (See: Clarence Thomas or Condoleezza Rice). But it’s worth a try.

Follow Titania Kumeh on Twitter.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate