Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anchorage Daily Planet Decries Gender-Based Affirmative Action In The Alaska Judiciary

On Monday, March 15th, 2010, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published a story bewailing the decline in the percentage of female judges in Alaska. Entitled "Percentage of female judges declining in Alaska", it cited statistics showing the decline during the past ten years. In 2000, there were 55 judges; 13, or 23.6 percent, were women. In 2010, the proportion of women on the bench is down to 18.8 percent; Of the 69 judges, 13 are women.

The tenor of the article insinuates bias against women. It suggests that women have to be more qualified than men to be considered. But Mary Greene, a pro tem judge who retired from the Fairbanks Superior Court, suggests it may be a bias in favor of a specific experiential profile. “I don’t have any problem with the selection process,” she said. “I think it has to do with the governors we’ve had. They are the ones making the choices. Many of the last several governors have placed a premium on private-practice experience. That leaves out many women, since many women work in the public sector most or much of their careers. We have had many good judges from the public sector, including (Alaska Supreme Court) Justice Dana Fabe, so I have never been convinced that that criteria is useful.”

But District Court Judge Jane Kauvar then played the diversity card. “When I started in 1981, I was the only sitting woman judge, and then for a period of time there were two others here. And now I’m back to being the only one. It just seems incredible that in 2010 I am back to being the only one. I feel it’s a shame for the public. The public has a right to feel that there is diversity”, whined Kauvar.

The "right" to feel that there is diversity??? Where in hell is THAT enshrined? This tripped alarm bells at the Anchorage Daily Planet, which promptly responded with a critical editorial of its own. The Daily Planet wrote, "What the public has a right to expect is excellence, not diversity. When the choice is excellence or diversity, excellence must win every time. If you were on trial would you want the best lawyers and judges available, or a diverse courtroom, no matter the level of competence?"

The upshot: What we must strive to achieve is equality in the selection process, not necessarily equality in the outcome. Diversity is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. But there the Daily Planet stopped; this worthy paleoconservative source chose not to educate us further on how forced diversity actually discriminates against white males and shoves them to the back of the bus.

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