The new catch phrase you hear almost daily is “diversity.”  With our entire nation now understanding more about diversity, we can point to one place where diversity is almost never seen: the judges who make up the United States Supreme Court. It’s to the point that President Joe Biden has recognized this lack of diversity, vowing to appoint to the court a Black female as its next justice to replace Justice Stephen Breyer.

Let’s examine how far from diverse the court is. First, it has only one Black member, Georgia’s own Clarence Thomas. These days it at least has three female members.  

The most obvious way that the Supreme Court is not diverse is in the educational background of its members. It’s almost 100 per cent made up of people who have graduated from prestigious colleges and law schools in the northeastern part of the United States, the Ivys.

Looking at the law schools the justices have attended:

  • Harvard: four justices: outgoing Stephen Breyer, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan and John Roberts.
  • Yale: Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas.
U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs of the District of South Carolina | Photo via Wikipedia.

Did you do the counting? That’s right, eight of the nine justices went to either Harvard or Yale for their law degree.  The only one not attending one of these schools is the most recently appointed justice, Amy Coney Barrett, who attended Notre Dame’s law school.

How about their undergraduate education?  Three justices graduated from Princeton (Kagan, Alito and Sotomayor).  Three others graduated from the Ivy League colleges of Columbia (Gorsuch); Harvard (Roberts); and Yale (Kavanaugh).  That makes six of nine who went to the Ivy League for a bachelor’s degree.

The three remaining justices got their undergraduate education at these schools: Stephen Breyer (Stanford); Clarence Thomas (Holy Cross); and Amy Coney Barrett (Rhodes College.)

In a nutshell, our Supreme Court has little diversity in the educational background of its members. 

As President Biden mulls over who he will pick for the court, you can understand the need for bringing to this high seat someone with a non-northeastern influence. His idea of a Black female attorney sets the stage. 

One of the president’s key advisers, South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, has a suggested nominee that easily fills the qualification that the president wants.  The influential Clyburn suggests a 55-year-old federal judge Michelle Childs, currently on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, named to the court in 2010. Even the Republican Senator  Lindsay Graham has said that she is “a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist.” She was nominated in January, 2022 to be a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Judge Childs is a native of Detroit whose father, a police officer, died when she was a teen, and her mother moved her to Columbia, S.C. She graduated in 1988 cum laude from the University of South Florida. She obtained her law degree from the University of South Carolina, where she also got a master’s in business. Later she received a master’s from Duke University School of  Law.

Talk about qualified and diversified! And not trained in the northeast!

While there are many other highly-qualified Black women for President Biden to choose from for this high court seat, the two legislators from South Carolina, Clyburn and Graham, are dead-on right: Michelle Childs has the qualifications for the Supreme Court seat. It needs her diversity!

Veteran Georgia journalist Elliott Brack is editor and publisher of Gwinnett Forum, where this commentary first appeared. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.