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What Makes a Supreme Court Justice?

With Justice John Paul Stevens announcing his retirement on April 9, 2010, President Obama has yet another significant decision to make that will influence the American people. A New York Times article reminds us that aside from five exceptions, all Supreme Court members in U.S. history have been white males.

Interestingly, with Stevens leaving, the court will no longer have a Protestant member. But as the article mentions, the decision for Steven’s replacement traditionally would be based on religion, which has now seemed to shift to ensuring demographic diversity.

While citizens throughout the U.S. and government officials alike await President Obama’s choice for Steven’s supplement, the decision will likely center-around who possesses the experience and insight to bring balance and completion to existing members. Today, basing the decision for the next Justice solely on the notion of religious affiliation would not necessarily provide the vital element that Supreme Court discussions require. It seems as though the nation needs response from a team of voices that can vouch for groups with diversity in race, gender, and ethnicity.

Although not written in stone, having attended law school at Harvard or Yale may be an unspoken Supreme Court Justice requirement. Every justice currently on court, aside from Justice Stevens, fits this quota. Based on the article, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg affirmed his belief that society is beyond wanting a nominee with strong religious affiliations. Justice Ginsburg also said that President Obama could use Steven’s retirement as an opportunity to honor tradition while simultaneously creating a fresh path.

Much of what makes up our Nation relies on the Supreme Court make-up and their collective decisions. While it’s easy for any citizen to provide their input in who would be the best candidate, there are several qualities of what makes a Supreme Court Justice to consider.

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