Now, both of these prestigious institutions rank among the best universities in the world. Clearly, no matter what side of the aisle you come from, we all want intelligent people on the Supreme Court. But these schools do not have a monopoly on producing smart lawyers. When an individual is able to, through force of intellect, matriculate and excel at Harvard or Yale Law they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they are among the top minds in America’s legal community. However, there is a certain cloistered nature to joining this elite community. People of this pedigree often live in a world that does not necessarily parallel the life experiences of most Americans. And that is where more diversity is needed.
What’s needed on the court are qualified individuals whose personal experiences vary from those of their colleagues. Take, for example, the ruling on Citizens United. This was an extremely long opinion that was full of legalese and short on practical understanding of the impact of unlimited money on political campaigns. I can’t help but think that if more of the justices had more direct experience in politics they may have thought twice about couching their ruling in purely legal scholarship and has more sense about the real life impact of their decision. A diversity of law school background does not guarantee a diversity of personal experience, but more likely than not it does create a deeper reservoir of personal experiences and relationships.