The New And Improved Supreme Court — Or Is It More Of The Same?

The recent American Bar Association Journal (Oct. 2008) has on its cover a banner headlining its October edition as well as a feature article within, which reads, “Supreme Court 2.0, New! Improved! Remaking the High Court”. At first blush, one can only hope that its author contemplates manners, means and techniques, maybe even ideas which may make the U.S. Supreme Court a court that would resemble its constituents, the lawyers of this great land, or simply the millions of men and women of the United States. Can it be possible that despite the ABA’s efforts to promote judicial diversity, specifically that of the members of the Court, that not a word was written for the inclusion of a Latino(a) as a means to reform and re-engineer the top bench?

For more than 200 years the Supreme Court has decided cases, issues, policies, and disputes without the input or mental impressions of a Latino(a) Justice. Can it be so that many qualified Latino(a) judicial candidates who serve as Judges from Federal Circuit Courts to trial courts all over the country, continue to be overlooked? This is exactly the case in the recent ABA Journal article. However, this will not be the case for very much longer.

Commentators across the country who study the U.S. Supreme Court forecast that two to three Justices’ seats will become available for new members of the Court during the next four years. For eight years, President Bush has wavered about the idea of a Latino(a) candidate with the dream of becoming the first ever Latino(a) Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Much talk, but no action. The time for action is now! The time has come to finally make judicial history.

The 2000 Census reveals that Hispanics comprise more than 12.5% of the total United States population, or almost 35 million people. In light of the demographics, one should expect, or even demand, to see a Latino(a) on the Supreme Court. See generally, Kevin Johnson, On the Appointment of a Latina/o to the Supreme Court, 1 Hisp. Nat’l B. Ass’n J.L. & Pol’y 20 (2008). Just as Justice Thurgood Marshall’s historic appointment in 1967 did for African-Americans, a Latino(a) appointment would bring new and much needed perspectives to the U.S. Supreme Court. Without question, the addition of a Latino(a) to the High Court holds the promise of improving the decision-making process on constitutional law, civil rights, and various other matters. Id. For that matter, in order to have a new and improved U.S. Supreme Court, any change must include a Latino(a) Justice on the Court. Any change less than that, will be simply more of the same old rhetoric.