Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Standing Athwart the Conventional "Nominee" Wisdom

Chesterton once noted that an attitude that ought to be opposed is the view that because we have got into a mess we must grow messier to suit it; that because we have taken a wrong turn some time ago we must go forward and not backwards; that because we have lost our way we must lose our map also; and because we have missed our ideal, we must forget it. In this spirit, Charmaine Yoest, a senior fellow at the Family Research Center, outlines why she prefers the president nominate a man for Justice O'Connor's seat:

Do we have to have a woman to “represent” women?

As the high practitioners of identity politics, the National Organization for Women is lobbying for a woman in the so-called woman’s chair: “The President should honor [Justice O’Connor’s] legacy by nominating a woman to the Court who is likewise committed to upholding equality for all.”

Note the careful crafting of that statement. Not just any woman will do. In order to qualify as a woman in their book, a jurist must be “committed to upholding equality for all.” That’s code for abortion rights. Everyone knows that if the president nominates a woman who has indicated opposition to abortion, NOW will oppose her with every ounce of their mailing list’s might.

This is the key point: Gender really is irrelevant to policy positions, and more relevantly, to an approach to constitutional interpretation. And here’s the awful irony: As we travel further down this path of nominating a woman qua women it will ultimately harm women as a whole.

Here’s why. After this nomination, another will follow. And likely another. But let us ask this question: After the president nominates, say, one of the Ediths — Judge Edith Jones or Judge Edith Clement — for this seat, will he give equal consideration to another female for the next nomination?

No, he won't. This is not an indictment of the president’s consideration process; it is a denunciation of identity and group politics. Once we have succumbed to the perversions of the feminist gender prism, for the next vacancy these same women will be hampered by the qualification that brings them forward this time. They are women. And the exigencies of identity politics will have moved on. ...

Even if the president nominates an Edith NOW doesn’t like, her nomination will represent the full-fledged establishment of the “women’s seat” on the Court. But what a Pyrrhic victory for women. Feminists will have succeeded in further solidifying “women” as a minority interest group, rather than professionals qualified for any opening on the Court independent of gender.

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