The Disadvantaged White Protestant Straight Males

John Paul Stevens, soon to retire Supreme Court Justice

(Yes, the title of  this post is sensationalistic. But it got you to read it, right?)

All of my life I’ve grown up with versions of this phrase, “Don’t judge someone by their color, race, ethnicity, gender, or religion– judge them by their character and abilities.

I grew up in a college town, with the University of Notre Dame within my elementary, middle, and high school’s boundaries, we were as melting pot a community as you could get in Indiana. Lots of ethnicities, lots of religions, lots of races. Growing up with that sort of diversity makes you hungry for it. It’s one of the things I love most about San Diego, where we live now.

Stuff like that just doesn’t matter.” That’s what we were taught. That was really our mantra growing up. And if I’m really honest– that’s what I believe in the core of my being. In fact, given the choice I still prefer to celebrate diversity. Kristen and I exhibit this by where we chose to live and the schools we chose to put our kids in and the church we chose to worship in.

I want my kids to grow up believing in Dr. King’s dream.

Perhaps that’s why I was so shocked to read this piece in Sunday’s New York Times:

With just five exceptions, every member of the Supreme Court in the nation’s history has been a white male, like Justice John Paul Stevens.

But Justice Stevens cuts a lone figure on the current court in one demographic category: He is the only Protestant.

His retirement, which was announced on Friday, makes possible something that would have been unimaginable a generation or two ago — a court without a single member of the nation’s majority religion.

— [moving to the end of the article] —

For his part, Professor Stone said there were ways a justice’s religious affiliation could have an impact on the court. President Obama, for instance, could nominate an evangelical Christian.

Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Harvard, had another suggestion.

President Obama, he said, could use Justice Stevens’s retirement as an opportunity both to honor tradition and to break new ground.

“The smartest political move,” he said, “would be to nominate an openly gay, Protestant guy.” read the full article

So, if I read that right the Supreme Court nomination is open to anyone who isn’t… a white protestant straight male.

I’m not calling it discrimination. But I find it odd. I’m all in favor of choosing people for the Supreme Court for political reasons. That’s certainly a tradition and one of the major privileges of being elected President. And I understand that as our nation has fought to make diversity a value, we had to intentionally place individuals in places of power and decision to communicate that value. All things equal, for more than a generation, we’ve chosen to elevate someone of another race, gender, religion, or whatever.

This has helped significantly communicate, “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from you can get anywhere in our culture.

But I wonder at what point does the discussion get back to purely, “Who is the most qualified?” and “Who would keep the courts balanced to represent a variety of worldviews?

In other words– I’d like to think we’ve arrived at a place in our nations history where it truly doesn’t matter the color of your skin, what nation your parents came from, where or if you worship, what your gender or sexual preference is, or even where your degree comes from.

Have we reached a place where white, protestant, straight, males are not put on the sidelines because of their race, gender, and sexual preference?

Apparently not.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

3 comments

  1. You are right. Time to appoint an atheist to the Supreme Court….

    Bwahahahahahaha….

  2. Yeah, something tells me it’ll be someone who is in the minority. Unless you Obama decides to double shock people and make a statement by not making a statement.

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