Ms. Sotomayor, the Supreme Court Justice nominee, and women in leadership, are lightening rods for expressing our collective hopes and fears about potential biases regarding race or gender effecting just decisions.
What wrong with Obama’s criteria for this position? Can’t we have someone who has a “rigorous intellect” AND recognizes the limits of the judicial role …someone who can apply the law with a sense of “understanding how the world works and how ordinary people live?” Every great leader knows they have to work concerns across different constituencies and apply judgment with an understanding of what is going to work “in the real world.” To me, this is blending head and heart in an integrated way – which is what the complexity of our times calls for.
It’s no news that we need more women and minority leadership everywhere, and especially in our highest courts in the U.S., to better reflect the diversity of this country. The fact that Obama’s choice manifests itself as a hispanic woman … matters and doesn’t matter.
It matters at the first level of selection – a hispanic woman – because otherwise there would already have been someone in the role with her race and gender. At the next level, it better not matter. Beyond these first level of differences from the majority, she needs to exercise the kind of complex, fair judgment required for the job. As with any ceo jobs, the assessment process needs to make sure the best qualified candidate is selected, REGARDLESS of race and gender. So, yes we are dealing with complexity and paradox.
To paraphrase Cristina Rodríguez, a professor at N.Y.U. Law School and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the “critical evaluation of her long record as a judge and her judicial philosophy and views on the issues the Court will face in coming years” are ultimately what matter in this assessement process.
Copyright 2009 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC www.sagelead.com