Not wanting LGB to be left out, I'll add a critique of Malchow's post about O'Connor, in which he frets about the possibility that, in the interest of maintaining minority representation on SCOTUS, when Sandra D. retires, it will seem necessary to fill that slot with another woman, or at least a "non-white, non-male replacement," a prospect Malchow could do without.
Jingoistic Joe says:
There is no room for "representation" of 400 million people in a nine-person body. Let's find some sharp people, forget about sex and non-whiteness, and call it a day.
I, of course, disagree.
I disagree that some notion of minority representation on the Supreme Court is unimportant. The reason why we have nine justices instead of one person whom we deem to be supremely knowledgeable in the law is to achieve a certain amount of balance. Granted, when the Supreme Court was instituted, balance meant that not all the justices should be lawyers from plantations in Virginia who part their hair on the left. Now, however, it does--and should--mean finding eminently qualified jurists who come at the law from different perspectives, perspectives that come from a much broader range of life experiences. One way to achieve this balance is by appointing justices that are minorities.
While I believe that an unqualified candidate should never be given an appointment simply by virtue of minority status, there are more than enough highly qualified minority jurists in the nation that it wouldn't be a miscarriage of justice in the slightest to narrow the pool.