Monday, December 20, 2010

Judge Ed Chen and Diversity: Recalling Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's and Justice Samuel Alito's Appreciation of the Importance of Diversity in the Judiciary

In the pages of the California Law Review, Judge Chen cites Justice O'Connor for the value of diversity on the federal bench:

The practical value of diversity within the judiciary is illustrated by Justice O'Connor's 1992 tribute to Justice Thurgood Marshall. She re- counted Justice Marshall's fondness for sharing personal stories with the other justices in conference in order to emphasize legal points, including stories about Ku Klux Klan violence, jury bias, defending an innocent African American wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to death, and the many indignities of racial segregation he personally had endured.' an wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to death, and the many indignities of racial segregation he personally had endured.’ Justice O’Connor spoke about the impact those stories, told by a man who had traveled a very different path than her, had on her own understanding of the issues confronting the Court. She spoke about the impact of legal rules on human lives, and the need for judges to strive to narrow the gap between the ideal of equal justice and the reality of social inequality:

No one could help but be moved by Justice Thurgood Marshall’s spirit; no one could avoid being touched by his soul.... Occasionally, at Conference meetings, I still catch myself looking expectantly for his raised brow and his twinkling eye, hoping to hear, just once more, another story that would, by and by, perhaps change the way I see the world.

Judge Chen's remarks recall Justice Alito's statement about the importance of his family's own immigrant experience--a diversity of experience that he believes valuable to the judiciary:
When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position…

Video of Justice Alito's remarks here.

No comments:

Post a Comment