When I first read the headline at Politico — “Obama to nominate first black lesbian judge in 20 years” — my first impulse was to ask, “Why is he planning to wait that long. By 2034, his presidency will have been over for 18 years.” Then I read the first few paragraphs, which resolved the ambiguity and paved the way for my second impulse — to ask, “What difference does it make?”
I realize those words paraphrase a question asked rhetorically and somewhat huffily by a former high-ranking member of the Obama cabinet, but I was not trying to be whimsical. I don’t understand why these particular traits would prompt Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere to treat the nomination of Staci Michelle Yandle as an important milestone.
Dovere writes that “increasing diversity on the bench has been a legacy priority for Obama,” but he never explains why he views that as a positive? Judges, according to their job description, are supposed to be impartial arbiters. Their sole task is to apply the law to cases that come before them. If they are going to dispatch their duties fairly, what difference does their color, their religion, or their lifestyle make? If a black and/or lesbian defendant comes before the bench, is a Judge Yandle apt to treat that person differently from a non-black and/or straight defendant? And, if so, shouldn’t that disqualify her from consideration?
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