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Monday, May 10, 2010

Elena Kagan's Diversity Record vs Roland Martin

If Elena Kagan Is U.S. Court Pick, Diversity Must Be Front And Center

If a white Republican U.S. president appointed a white male as his next Supreme Court justice, and upon the inspection of his record, it was discovered that nearly all of the 32 full-time tenured or tenured track faculty he hired were white men, this would dominate the headlines.

It would be reasonable to conclude that the special interest groups that vigorously fight for diversity — civil rights organizations, feminist groups and other liberal institutions — would be up in arms, declaring that this person’s records show him unwilling to diversify academia and unqualified to consider diverse views as one of the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

There would be widespread condemnations of Republicans having no concern for the non-white males in America.

But what if the choice was made by a black Democratic president and it was a woman? A white woman? A white Democratic woman?

Some of you may not like the fact that I am focusing on the race of the individual, but when diversity is raised, the person’s skin color, gender and background is considered germane to the discussion. And if there is silence from black and female organizations, their race and gender matters as well.

We may witness this if President Barack Obama selects Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Guy-Uriel Charles, founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, has heavily scrutinized Kagan’s hiring record as head of the Harvard Law School.

In a scathing blog post, he has asserted that of the 29 positions Kagan had a chance to fill, 28 were white and one was Asian-American. And of the group, only six were women — five white and one Asian-American.

These numbers on the surface are appalling and would be ripped to shreds by those who value diversity. But my gut tells me that if Kagan is tapped by Obama, the normally vocal and persistent voices in this area will be tight-lipped and quiet, unwilling to oppose or heavily criticize the nomination of a woman to the court, especially one made by an African-American Democratic president.

If that were the direction taken, Republicans would rightly cry foul, saying it was a double standard.

Their actions would be shameful and seen as merely partisan hacks more concerned about not offending the Obama administration rather than the ideals they hold near and dear.

Although not revealing that she is the choice, the White House is already fighting back against the attacks on her record by Charles, which have been amplified by

According to the site, the White House is disseminating talking points by stressing that the real issue is not those who took the jobs, but instead the offers Kagan made. In addition, they highlight the number of other African-Americans on the faculty, as well as the percentage of minority students during her tenure.

So, basically the White House wants everyone to believe that Kagan made offers, but nearly all of the minorities chose not to go to work for the most prestigious law school in America.

Folks, I wasn’t born yesterday.

The real issue will be reaction from the left.

It is shameful and disgusting when civil rights organizations, feminist groups and others lose their conviction and sense of purpose when a Democrat gets in the White House. They need to decide what matters: their principles or their politics; their mission or their liberal money; their convictions or chicken dinners in the White House.

Some have already spoken up.

The Black Women’s Roundtable has advocated the inclusion of several black women on the court’s short list. Based on the interviews revealed to the media, none were African-American or minority, but two of the three were women.

Credibility and consistency are vital for any organization. And if the leaders of civil rights and feminist organizations do not demand strong and clear answers from the White House about Kagan and her diversity track record as dean of Harvard Law School, they are failing the people they claim to represent.

Demanding the accountability about diversity isn’t a one-way street meant only for Republicans. Democrats should never get a pass, either.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and the author of the forthcoming book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at

To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Sources: Roland S. Martin Blog, Black Women's Roundtable, Colored Demos, Duke Law School

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