Diversity Ethics President Obama

Only Six Are Straight White Guys

When an uproar over the Obama administration’s supposed lack of diversity erupted several months ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the media should reserve judgement until all of the nominations are in. Fast forward to today and we have a much clearer picture of just how diverse the president’s nominations are. The Washington Post has an excellent profile of the president’s judicial nominees.

In Florida, President Obama has nominated the first openly gay black man to sit on a federal district court. In New York, he has nominated the first Asian American lesbian. And his pick for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit? The first South Asian. [...]

Obama has 35 nominees currently awaiting votes by the Senate — including several holdovers from 2012 who have been renominated this year — and there are more than 50 additional vacancies awaiting nominees, according to the Federal Judicial Center. [...]

17 of the 35 pending judicial nominees are women, 15 are ethnic minorities and five are openly gay, according to White House statistics. Six are straight white men.

During Obama’s first term, 37 percent of his confirmed judges were nonwhites, compared with 19 percent for President George W. Bush and 27 percent for President Bill Clinton. The trend is similar on gender: 42 percent of Obama’s first-term judges were women, compared with 21 percent for Bush and 30 percent for Clinton.

Of the 874 federal judgeships, 39 percent are held by women and 37 percent are held by non-whites, according to data kept by the Federal Judicial Center.

Out of 35 pending judicial nominees, only six are straight white men.

Republicans are obstructing the president’s judicial nominee’s confirmations because they realize their appointments will have a much longer lasting effect on society and the way we interpret the law than cabinet appointments that will be, for better or worse, replaced in four years.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t encourage diversity at every level of government, but it also shouldn’t be viewed as zero sum and diversity is not a means unto itself.