response to adam white’s column

BY BKING@LAW.HARVARD.EDU

Adam White’s column, “Black-listing conservatives, then and now” rates a brief follow-up.

Mr. White’s thesis is that there is something wrong with “liberals” scrutinizing conservative nominations of minorities for the Supreme Court. He says that “liberals” should refrain from opposing “highly qualified” minority nominees as “too conservative”. But why should they do that? Aren’t they are still experiencing the pangs of past oversight?

In the recent past, popular conceptions of diversity have been speciously invoked to secure some very insufferable government appointments. It is quite instructive to see certain nominees gain support in the confirmation process by appealing to notions of cosmetic diversity – only moments before totally abandoning the group of persons composing the diversity element that the nominee was touted to represent. So, why would anyone accept another diversity-based nominee without considering the way the diversity cachet has been abused in the past?

Further, Mr. White’s use of the word “qualified” reveals his belief that conservatives are truly committed to confirming nominees on conventional notions of “merit”. However, from the looks of their party composition, a minority cohort is “meritorious” among the conservatives if he or she is: (a) self-effacing; (b) easily marginalized; (c) decidedly opposed to the majoritarian goals of the group he or she is offered to represent; or (d) all of the above.

On a sub-textual note, Mr. White also suggests that Thurgood Marshall’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court is somehow less worthy of historical recognition than the unsuccessful attempt of an earlier, and purportedly “more highly qualified”, William Hastie.

In response, it should be first clarified that the Black History archive is, and will always be, a work in progress. It necessarily falls short in celebrating the innumerable and sparsely documented acts of nobility that have positively impacted the Black American enterprise. With that said, it is notable that William Hastie receives considerable recognition within the Black History canon; not because he was more qualified than Marshall to sit on the bench (a comparison that is as irrelevant as it is infeasible), but because he, like Marshall, made profound contributions to the Black American enterprise.

Brian King Jr. – 2L

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