But let's see how deeply he steps in it:
[Why?] For two reasons. First, because female justices, on average, will be more sensitive to the problems women face. Since they will have likely encountered gender bias themselves, they will be more likely to support government action to remedy it. And that firsthand experience of injustice may also sensitize them to the plight of other groups that have historically experienced discrimination. These are crude generalizations, of course, but they have a basis in fact. Just look at the women in Congress, who are far more likely to be pro-choice—and to lean left more broadly—than are the men.In other words, you want more lefties on the Court, and femaleness is a rough proxy for leftism.
Our government is actually doing a pretty good job of providing role models for the 20 percent of American women who don’t want kids. Where it’s failing is in providing role models for the 80 percent that do.
But there’s a second reason we should want more women on the court. It’s not just that they may alleviate gender injustice through their rulings; they may alleviate it through their example as well. Just as Barack Obama empowers African-American kids to believe that there are no limits to what they can achieve, female Supreme Court justices send the same message to young women. As anyone who has ever watched their daughter eye a Barbie Doll can attest, role models matter.Oh, for the love of God! As if it's 1975! I was irked in 1985 to be told that I had the role of being a role model. I thought the male law professor who told me that was discriminating against me. The men didn't have that extra dimension to their job — that basis for being valued apart from the strength doing the real work. Frankly, I found it diminishing. So that's me being "be more sensitive to the problems women face." One of the problems is men portraying our success as some kind of Oprahesque self-esteem lesson for the backward.
And that’s why it’s important not just to have lots of women in positions of political power, but to have lots of women with kids. It’s important because otherwise, the message you’re sending young women is that they can achieve professionally, or they can have a family, but they can’t do both.Hey, buddy. My career is not your messaging device. My birth canal is not a beacon of light to the unenlightened.
And without quite realizing it, that is the message our government has been sending. According to the Census Bureau, 80 percent of American women over the age of 40 have children. But look at the women who have held Cabinet posts in the last three presidential administrations. Only two of the Clinton administration’s five female Cabinet secretaries had kids.... In the Bush administration, the figure was two of seven. In the Obama administration, so far, it is two of four. And if Obama chooses Elena Kagan for the High Court, the figure there will be one of three.Let's roll back to Reason #1 for wanting a woman on the Court: to get a bigger leftist. So why are you knocking Kagan? Because she's childless, or because you prefer Diane Wood, the woman with kids who is — so they say — the bigger leftist?
Beinart, I call bullshit.
AND: Consider this NYT article from 1922 (as reacted to by me, pretending to be a blogger of the time):
The NYT contends that the 12 greatest women "are women that have never been heard of outside of their own homes, and seldom appreciated there; who have put aside their own ambitions ... to build careers for which their husbands got credit." But the [National League for Women Voters] is looking for famous women, so the Times names 12 famous women: Geraldine Farrar, Edith Wharton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Molla Mallory, Alice Paul, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Amy Lowell, Minnie Maddern Fiske, M. Carey Thomas, Mary Pickford, and Agnes Repplier. Ah, but "six of the twelve have never married," and the married ones are all childless. "Let those who think it is easy to manage a first-rate career and a first-rate home simultaneously find an explanation for that."
Well, my first attempt at an explanation would be to guess that the NYT composed its list of twelve with an eye toward who was childless. But, yet, it's certainly true that it's not easy to balance career and family. Why can't we factor that in as we select the greatest women? First, you say the really greatest women are the ones who put aside all career ambitions for the sake of the family, and then you present us with a list of great women who are all childless. It's obvious what you want to say. You want to warn women away from careers. Unless we are willing to abandon the hope for a good family, we should forget about having a career. This is a terrible message. Try harder to find good examples of women who have balanced family and work and show us how they have done it — or modern women should toss this reactionary newspaper aside. We deserve better.