A different kind of breakthrough on the court

A DIFFERENT KIND OF BREAKTHROUGH ON THE COURT…. There have been 110 Supreme Court justices. Of that total, zero have been openly gay. Marc Ambinder notes today that this may change fairly soon.

Two of the most qualified center-left jurists in the country are gay, and they’ve got friends in high places.

Channeling our inner Joy Behars: “Who cares?”

Sexual orientation won’t matter to President Obama — this I do believe, based on several years of reporting on the guy. Unless he’s influenced by subconscious patter, he’s not going to choose someone because she’s gay, and he’s not going to remove someone from a list because she’s gay.

That does not mean, in any way, that he won’t want to think through the ramifications of what the appointment of the first openly gay jurists would entail.

This is not just idle speculation. Kathleen Sullivan, a First Amendment scholar and former dean of Stanford Law School, frequently appears on lists of possible high court nominees, as does Stanford’s Pam Karlan, and both are lesbians.

Ambinder, speculating about the possibility, argues, “Journalists will cover the issue reductively, interest groups on all sides won’t be able to resist; opponents may well use her sexuality as a weapon against her, and proponents will see every attack against her as motivated by antipathy to homosexuality.” Perhaps.

But I hope White House officials remain open to the possibility anyway. At a minimum, I’d like to see conservative activists try to rationalize their intolerance. I expect we’d hear a lot of, “I don’t hate gay people, but….”

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.