May 4, 2009

There will be math.

Yesterday, I said that, contrary to Arlen Specter's assertion, black people are not underrepresented on the Supreme Court. I noted the presence of Clarence Thomas, the fact that 1 is 11.1111 percent of 9, 2 is 22.2222 percent of 9, and that African-Americans make up 13.4% of the U.S. population.

In the comments, JackOfClubs defended Spector:
Technically, he's right since 11.11...% is less than 13.4%. To get an accurate representation, we would need 0.134 * 9 = 1.206 black people on the Court. This could be achieved if the next candidate were 13/64 = .203125 black, i.e. if 13 of his or her great-great-great-great grandparents were black and the other 51 were some other race. This approximation would be precise to the 2nd decimal place which is really all we can expect given that the original statistic of 13.4% is probably rounded. A slightly more precise approximation could be achieved by looking for someone 53/256 = .2070312 black, but that would just be silly.
More math satire, from Mike S:
The views of Blacks (13% of the population) are only under-represented on the court if they are on the LOSING end of an 8-1 or 9-0 decision. If they are on the losing end of 7-2, 6-3, or 5-4 decisions, or on the winning side of any decision, they are over-represented.

The views of whites (60% of the population), on the other hand, are under-represented if they are on the LOSING end of ANY decision.

Therefore, to be fair, all supreme court cases should be decided by a nationwide poll of white people.

17 comments:

ElcubanitoKC said...

Since race is what matters, I propose that The One (PBHU) appoints one my sisters. Their father was 1/4 black, and my mother is 1/4 Chinese. They are both Cubans, which makes them Hispanic, and of course they are both women. And most importantly, they are able to feel empathy.

The facts that they do not live in the US, and have absolutely no law training whatsoever; are not really important given he criteria being put forth by most.

BJK said...

Why do 'diversity politics' and 'racial politics' merit separate - and apparently exclusive - tags?

Revenant said...

Something else to keep in mind is that most black Americans have some percentage of recent (last 10 generations or so) white ancestry. So the 13.4% of "black" Americans might only be 11 or 12% African (with the caveat that if you go back far enough we're all African).

garage mahal said...

How bout appointing Anita Hill? That would be interesting.

Freeman Hunt said...

Let's put Walter E. Williams on the Court. You know, as long as they don't need law training, why not?

SteveR said...

Freeman, I appreciate your attempt at humor but seriously you know its gotta be Sharpton.

NKVD said...

Nifong in blackface would do nicely.

jimbino said...

Get real: math is not just adding, subtracting and doing fractions. Apart from Breyer, who is the last member of SCOTUS who could do math? Or science? Or engineering? Or PhD economics?

Eric said...

Something else to keep in mind is that most black Americans have some percentage of recent (last 10 generations or so) white ancestry. So the 13.4% of "black" Americans might only be 11 or 12% African (with the caveat that if you go back far enough we're all African).

I've been struggling with this as well. It seems to get this right we're going to have to have ancestry documentation from every supreme court justice going back at least ten generations. Then we should be able to compute the exact racial composition of the person we're looking for to fill the vacant seat. If there's more than one person with the correct ancestry we should just pick the best looking one.

Freeman Hunt said...

Well, I'm putting forth the name of Walter E. Williams, and anyone who opposes the effort to nominate him is a racist.

mccullough said...

With Souter gone, Justice Stevens is the lone WASPM. I feel sorry for him, with all the Jews and Catholics, especially the dark one.

Why are Jews and Catholics over-represented on the SC, Senator Specter?

Obama should put a WASPM on the Court.

kentuckyliz said...

Because Jews and Catholics are smarter 'n' a treeful of owls.

montana urban legend said...

"1 is 11.1111 percent of 9, 2 is 22.2222 percent of 9"

Wow. Before I know it the innumerate will catch on to the concept of significant digits.

birdie bob said...

@ Freeman Hunt
"Well, I'm putting forth the name of Walter E. Williams, and anyone who opposes the effort to nominate him is a racist."I second the nomination. He recently stated that he used to be called to testify before Congress but they stopped calling him because he would go to the Hill and tell them that they were the cause of the problems. A great combination of intellect and attitude and just what the Court needs.

TMink said...

Kentuckyliz, how are you doing healthwise?

You are on my short prayer list.

Trey

JAL said...

Apart from Breyer, who is the last member of SCOTUS who could do math?Last member of SCOTUS?

How about present member of COTUS -- not to mention the POTUS.

Remedial Math instructors needed in District of Columbia.

Georgfelis said...

Arlen Specter's assertion is made by a white male, therefore it cannot represent Black Americans, right? Sounds like we should quit listening to him, and Joe Biden both.

Actually not a bad idea...