I have only one caveat to the praise I heaped upon Senator Lindsey Graham for his eloquent and compelling statement on why to confirm Judge Sotomayor. I found the "role-model" portion of his remarks maudlin and out of touch. Sonia Sotomayor is no more of a realistic role model for young Latinas in Waco, Texas, than George Bush is an exemplar for white kids from rural Wyoming.

While I applaud the personal determination evidenced by Judge Sotomayor's impressive legal career and inspiring life story, we should not kid ourselves about what this historic elevation really means. The Supreme Court is still very much a closed club. Obviously race and gender are no longer exclusionary factors--but graduation from an elite law school (for the most part, either Yale or Harvard) and social connections within the elite national legal fraternity are still VERY MUCH required.

Sandra Day O'Connor is likely the last "regular Jane or Joe" to be elevated onto the Court.

So, you want to open up some doors in re diversity, let's elevate a law school alum from BYU or the University of Florida or UT Austin. Until then, we should hear all those "up from their bootstraps" "only in America" encomiums with a healthy grain of salt.

Yes. The path to the Supreme Court is open to anyone (with talent, the willingness to work hard, and the sense to keep their nose clean). However, for the sake of intellectual honesty, we should note that there is only one path to this ultimate position of high honor and importance--and the only trail heads seem to be located in New Haven and Cambridge.

We live in a nation in which any graduate of Yale or Harvard Law can grow up to be a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.


Harvard: 6
Yale: 2
Northwestern: 1*

*John Paul Stephens--confirmed to the Court during the Ford administration, 1975