Sunday, May 31, 2009

Justice is Never Completely Blind

There's a false idea left over from the Enlightenment which dogs our society in several ways; this week, it's in law.  That's the notion that pure rationality is possible and that, for instance, a good judge brings no bias into the courtroom and is capable of pure justice.    

So when someone digs up a statement by a Supreme Court nominee which suggests that a person with a certain kind of experiences (Hispanic, female), would be a better judge than a person with other kinds of experiences (Anglo, male) there's been a cry of racism from the right and "she didn't really mean that" from her supporters.

What really needs to be said is that of course she's right to point out that her conscious and unconscious biases and understandings that come from the life she's had will make her a better judge in some cases....AND that the understandings and biases of Anglo's, males, African Americans, younger and older judges and so on, will ALSO make them better judges in other cases, and the moral of the story is not that those observations are racist, but that they make the case for the importance of diversity on the Supreme Court.  Nobody is  purely rational.  


Bill Baar said...

Justice my not be blind but it should be smart, and a Judge should be smart enough to know you never have to take back things you don't say.

Robin Edgar said...

Let's not forget how the biases of certain judges do anything but make them better judges in some cases. . .