June 29th, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Letter to the President #526: 'The home court advantage for Harvard and Yale'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/06/28/senate.kagan.first.day/smlvid.kagan.monday.cnn.jpg caption="Foreman: I’ve been watching the kerfuffle over your Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan; with some Repubs suggesting she’ll be too liberal, some Democrats suggesting something else, and some others suggesting it’s time for lunch. It’s all so silly." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama went to Harvard Law School, so maybe he’s not troubled by the utter domination of the country’s highest court by those two schools. But in my daily letter to the White House, I raise a few questions.

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve been watching the kerfuffle over your Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan; with some Repubs suggesting she’ll be too liberal, some Democrats suggesting something else, and some others suggesting it’s time for lunch. It’s all so silly. It seems pretty likely that she’ll get more than 50 votes, they’ll order a black robe, and Bob’s-your-uncle here comes the new Justice.

Still, I can’t help but be troubled as I watch this when I think about the screaming, overwhelming, outlandish Yale-Harvard bias in it all. As others have noted, if this nomination is approved, every single member of the Court will have earned a law degree from one or the other of those schools. Now, I’m sure both institutions are admirably adequate, and as a graduate of Troy State, I should know. But what does this say about the rest of the nation? Is it truly possible that you could find no other reasonable nominee from the legions of other law schools in our land?

I’m no legal expert, but I did brilliantly and successfully fight a parking ticket in Louisiana once, so I feel I am qualified to offer advice. The problem with allowing two schools, no matter how good they are, to entirely take over the Court is threefold.

First, it promotes a certain similarity of thought. I’m not talking about homogeneous political views, because heaven knows Justices have differences of opinion. But rather, I am talking about a tendency to see issues in a framework that is heavily shaped by a North East, elite education, big money/power point of view.

Second, it looks like a cabal. All those frothing conspiracy theorists aside, wouldn’t you be suspicious if a business council purporting to represent the nation’s interests came to see you, but brought only people from the Dakotas? Sure, the East Coast crowd wants to dismiss this, but trust me: If the Supreme Court were suddenly filled with graduates of law schools in Alabama and Texas… or heck, even Oregon and California… the Hardvard/Yale crowd would howl like cats with their tails caught in the door.

And third, it suggests precisely what the rest of the nation suspects already: That too many power brokers in Washington don’t have any real respect for the intelligence and wisdom the rest of the country has to offer.

So go ahead with your confirmation process, but I think these are points you might want to keep in mind. Pick all your chickens from the same coop and you’ll wind up with all the same kind of eggs; and in a government that keeps crowing about diversity, that seems like a questionable choice at best.

Hope all is well.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Alex Valiao (Fresh Meadows, NY)

    The stereotypes that arises from prestigious schools will always be there...the same reason they are pricey. It would be a shame for us to miss great thinkers and think tanks from around the nation simply because we are delineating ourselves to old traditional common presumptions or assumptions. The world is changing and 21st century is knocking along with globalization. If we don't learn to maximize and utilize all human capital that is available in America, our future will be half-baked or worse...stagnant/stale. Moving along this lines, I thought that most hires especially those holding top positions nowadays are outside the " elite, old school loop". What's up with our justice system then? Just asking...

    June 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Jim

    Yes Tom, Except those arn't Chickens- Try BUZZARDS!! 😉

    June 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  3. K S Verdi, San Antonio, TX

    Bravo, another brilliant letter! Heaven forbid the nominee would be from Texas LOL. St. Mary's University in San Antonio puts out a pretty good bunch of lawyers and we have plenty with many years of experience down here!

    June 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  4. steve cobb

    refreshing, revealing article. all members from two schools? pursing diversity in a vacuum? what a joke.
    how 'bout next time they fly over us, they at least throw us some cake?

    June 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm |