Professor ZZZ wrote:
“Neomi [Rao] is not only exceedingly well-qualified for the position [as Judge Kavanaugh’s successor on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit], she is also the daughter of Indian immigrants, of course a woman, a constitutional law scholar, and Jewish.”
Once you get passed Professor ZZZ’s “exceedingly well-qualified for the position” comment, I am not sure why I or anyone else should be interested in (most, if not all of) these other characteristics—“constitutional law scholar” excepted. I certainly see no societal gain giving a nominee a plus for being Jewish. As far as I know, there is no shortage of my coreligionist’s being on the bench or in the bar. I don’t want to be in the position of picking or selecting or even favouring candidates based on their particular religion or lack thereof. And I don’t want my government doing that either. If the reason Professor ZZZ mentions this particular part of the nominee’s biography is to offset the claim that Trump is an antisemite, or associates with antisemites, or tacitly supports antisemites, then (rightly or wrongly) this sort of argument strikes me as extremely unlikely to convince those that harbour such beliefs.
Many of the people on this list think that the Constitution’s Natural Born Citizen clause works an injustice against naturalized citizens. If that moral intuition is sensible, then just maybe we should not distinguish children of immigrants from others who were citizens at birth (e.g., children whose parents were citizens, but not migrants), and from others—i.e., naturalized citizens.
Finally, why is it interesting that the nominee is from Indian stock—unless we have some meaningful way to distinguish different immigrant groups based on ethnicity, nationality, etc.
Perhaps Professor ZZZ meant, just perhaps, that children of immigrants overcome difficulties that others do not have to contend with—so that such a characteristic is an indicia of competence etc. I certainly have never seen that case made out. Generally, I think there is a tendency to romanticize such biographical information. I see no upside to this worldview, and there may well be a downside. Doing so may have a deleterious effect—sapping and undermining confidence (among our least advantaged) that our institutions are selecting people consistently, fairly, and based on merit. It strikes me that the alternative is a social spoils system advantaging the connected, those affiliated with socially approved group identities—including identities based on immutable characteristics, and concomitantly disadvantaging those not in favoured groups. The consequence: unnecessary and undesirable societal divisiveness.
The game is not worth the candle.
Seth Barrett Tillman, Unnecessary and Undesirable Societal Divisiveness, New Reform Club (Nov. 14, 2018 2:14 AM), https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2018/11/unnecessary-and-undesirable-societal.html.