September 8, 2005

Finding the perfect woman to replace O'Connor.

Manuel Miranda, former counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, writes in the Wall Street Journal about the possible replacements for Sandra Day O'Connor, grouping his list into three categories: the women, the Hispanics, the Senators. (Plus a few that don't fit.) He concentrates on the conservative concern about avoiding "another Souter" and various political ramifications of different choices. So go read his list.

But here's my question, about the blurb he serves up for Maura Corrigan:
Now on the Michigan Supreme Court, she was popularly elected three times, first to the appeals court where she served as chief judge and then to the state high court. She has 13 years' appellate experience and is a widow with two grown children. It would be hard for Democrats to oppose a popular judge from a swing blue state.
Why mention her children when no one else's children are mentioned? Is it a special qualification for a woman if she's had children — making her properly womanly? — but they aren't her current responsibility — which would presumably suit her for a demanding job?

Suit her? Don't say "suit her"! You might jinx her! You know young Bush is devoted to avoiding making his father's mistakes!


Too Many Jims said...

Great questions.

I do think that for some, it will be important to know that she has children because she has not faced many (if any) abortion related decisions on the bench. That said, I do think the more important aspect is that "they aren't currently her responsibility". Imagine if the Roberts nomination was reversed with the woman standing next to the President and the husband herding the kids.

Thomas said...

It might be because she--unlike most judges--actually includes this information in her public bio (see ).

I'm sure some of the others mentioned in the article have children too--some might even be fathers.

The fact that Corrigan is a widow may be relevant to some--apparently her late husband was a law professor.

reader_iam said...

I don't particularly like the fact that, indeed, this is the sort of bio info that's included for women, but not for men. I wish we'd quit that--or do it for everyone. (Actually, if the point is to give an idea of the breadth of an individual's life experiences, not just work, there is quite a good argument to be made for some personal stuff--as long as it's true for everyone.) (Heck, I must say I prefer to know some basic profile stuff for anyone in public or semi-public life--including journalists, pundits, authors, and even bloggers. LOL at myself.)

As it is, while I can't get into Frist's head, I must assume he's working from a strategic standpoint, and presenting what many would see as a practicality. Remember, he's clearly (at least based on your excerpt) looking at candidates that would be "hard for Democrats to oppose ..." .

The truth is, "the children" is a constant meme in politics today, cutting across all parts of the spectrum, but most particularly from the center and proceeding leftward. I don't know when Judge Corrigan was "widowed," but I somewhat tend to assume that it must have been at some earlier time such that she spent at least a few years as a "single mother" of minor children (otherwise, why include the widow part? to imply there'd be no husband to distract her, as well as no minor children--as you pointed out? LOL). Again, this is a major meme even from the center, but certainly as one moves toward the left.

Single mothers, generally, are assumed to have more compassion, due to their struggles and dual roles. They are assumed, again generally, to be more sympathetic to feminist points-of-views, attitudes and goals. They are assumed to be either less insulated from economic hardship, at least, or outright more sympathetic to extensive safety nets and bigger government.

I must be clear, here: I do not know enough about Maura Corrigan to make a judgment either way. I also am not intending to make a comment, either way, as to whether the above memes are or should be a factor, whether such factors do or do not make better judges, etc. I'm MERELY responding to the query as to why her children are mentioned and not others', and speculating on why.

On final set of thought: Let's say that, indeed, the idea is to pick a judge-candidate who is, first, qualifed, but ALSO whom it will be harder to oppose because of traits or attributes that would normally appeal to the other side of aisle (the implication being that those traits or attributes will provide insulation for the candidate from attacks from the other side). May I suggest that in the end that might not only NOT work, but even backfire? I mean, it was supposed to be harder to oppose such major officials as Condoleeza Rice because, in addition to qualifications, they are also African-American. From where I sit, that didn't work.

In the end, it's the ideology, and even sometimes the ideas and principles, I think, that trump all. (And that goes for mostly everyone).

reader_iam said...

Sorry, that should have been "Miranda's" mind. Sorry for typos. Time for an espresso.

Scott said...

It seems deeply inappropriate to use that information about Corrigan.

At this moment, given the president's apparent priority on personal connections and personal histories, I'd guess that the top possibilities would be Owen, Clement, Gonzalez, and Brown. But your no more Souters comment raises an idea - weren't Edith Jones and Ken Starr the other finalists for that seat? Picking Jones then would surely get the non-alcoholic champagne flowing at Focus on the Family, and make a clear no more Souters statement. As to what it would say about the president's views of his father's choices ... that's another issue.

Oh, and is Danny Boggs really Hispanic? Or was he just born in Cuba?

Jamie said...

Perhaps it is the perception that anyone who criticizes widows and orphans is seen as a mustache twirling villian, something Democrats cannot afford to do at this point.

It would be more pignant if she were, say, a 26 year old widow scrubbing toilets to feed two toddlers. As she is a middle aged women with a great job and grown kids, it doesn't make much sense to say she won't be attacked in a confirmation hearing.

I am wary of Michigan conservatives. I am suspicious that she is another Souter, and the general lefty feel of ann Arbor is not a comforting sign.

Goesh said...

- a crisp $50 says it will be Janice

Ron said...

Jamie: What liberalism Michigan has is more driven by traditional Detroit and union based liberalism than Ann Arbor! (Regardless of what Ann Arbor thinks of itself!)

Adam said...

I'm intrigued by the reference to Judge Boggs as being a Hispanic nominee. Born in Cuba, but otherwise, as Hispanic as Ted Williams.

Still, if that means that the Boggs Quiz would be issued for SCt clerks, I'm amused.

Freeman Hunt said...

- a crisp $50 says it will be Janice

To dream a little dream. I hope you are right.

Timothy K. Morris said...

Jamie: No real need to worry about Justice Corrigan's conservative credentials. I'm an appellate prosecutor who has practiced before judge and justice Corrigan for her entire time on the appellate bench. In terms of law enforcement issues, at least, she's no Souter. And if you believe the propaganda from our state trial lawyer's association and their fellow travelers, she's far from a Souter on much of any issue you can raise. The only draw back I can see to having Justice Corrigan on the US S Ct would be that our Democratic governor would get to appoint her replacement.

Wade_Garrett said...

I'd like to throw the name of Sonia Sotomayor, of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, out there for consideration. Female, Hispanic, educated at Princeton and Yale Law School, nominated to the SDNY District Court by George HW Bush and confirmed by a Democratic Senate, nominated to the 2nd Circuit by Bill Clinton and confirmed by a Republican Senate, she seems to have a lot of bases covered. Also, her plain-spoken opinion-writing style would be a welcome addition to law school casebooks!

vbspurs said...

Heh. I wrote a similar blogspot on September 6, when I conjectured who it might be -- to replace SDO.

Although I did suggest maybe a Hispanic woman might be in the running (perhaps one from SoFla), there is one name which I have been getting a gut feeling, ever since I heard Rehnquist died.

That's Theodore Olson, ex-Special Counsel as most people know.

His wife Barbara was killed in the second airplane hit on the Twin Towers, and surely he'd have a lot of sympathy when that was known.

You can't just beat up on a guy like that. Well, so easily.