Letter to the editor 2/17/22

by Joseph Leckenby | class of 2021

Feb. 17, 2022

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to respectfully address my disagreement with Staff Columnist Zachary Petroff vis-à-vis his opinion piece “Diversifying Democracy: Appointing a new justice,” in which Petroff seemingly supports “Biden only looking at Black, female candidates” to fill the SCOTUS vacancy which will be created by Justice Breyer’s upcoming retirement from the court.  According to the piece, Biden is doing this “to fulfill one of his campaign promises.”

While I have no problem with having a Black, female Justice––I do have a problem with the assumptions Petroff made in his piece:  

When addressing criticisms that conservatives have against this action, sc., looking solely at Black women, to fill the court’s vacancy––Petroff classifies these criticisms as “loud — and not-so-subtly racist — remarks.”  I disagree with this characterization.  Any action that excludes candidates from being considered from a position based on their race and sex will contribute to a racialization of the nation’s highest court.  Conservatives are calling Biden’s action “racist.” Others, like Petroff, make the argument that it serves our interest to only look at Black, female candidates in order to bring more diversity to the Court.  If we want diversity, then we should include all groups of people in the hiring pool, not just those who would bring diversity because of their backgrounds.  Petroff argues that “‘Picking the best candidate regardless of race’ is a disingenuous statement, mostly being spewed by people in power — usually white, and male…and rich,” but I have to disagree: It is much more gratifying for a Black woman to be nominated from a group of similarly-qualified candidates from multiple ethnic backgrounds, than it is for her to be picked from a same-sex, same-race pool of candidates.  It would show that she was chosen based on her abilities, not her immutable characteristics.