With his nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, President Obama may have helped tilt the scales of one of the hardest-fought diversity battles on Capitol Hill. If Garland were approved, the all-time total of justices who were white, male and had attended an Ivy League school would jump to 56. Which would give that group a three-man lead — the largest in the nation's history! — over the next largest group of justices: white males who didn't attend an Ivy League school.
This is how close this exciting battle has gotten.
The last justice who didn't attend an Ivy League school (meaning at any point in his or her educational history) was Sandra Day O'Connor, who went to Stanford. The last justice to attend a state school was Warren Burger.
Of course, the court is currently far more diverse than it has been for most of its history. Looking at additions to the bench over time, the advent of non-white males is still relatively recent.
This isn't true only of the court. When the 114th Congress convened in D.C. in January 2015, we looked at the history of the legislative body since its inception. Women and non-whites are just starting to appear, historically speaking.
Whether Garland actually becomes a Supreme Court justice is another question. Perhaps part of the Republican caucus's objection is that it wants to keep the Ivies from dominating the non-Ivies. If so, its hesitation is well-founded.