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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Justice Matters: Diversity and the High Court

Today the Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary held a panel discussion on Elena Kagan and the impact of the Supreme Court on the Latino community. The discussion was lead by was lead by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and included James Ferg-Cadima, DC Regional Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Maria Cardona, Founding Member, Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) and Nancy Zirkin Executive Vice President for Policy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The panel spoke to a standing room only crowd of Hill staffers and others. The discussion regarded the panelists’ takes on how the courts affect the Latino community, how race and diversity among judges affect the courts, and how Elena Kagan would change the Supreme Court if confirmed.

On the issue of the courts affecting Hispanics Rep. Sanchez spoke about the impact of the federal courts on the lives of Americans, specifically citing how Mendez v. Westminster lead to desegregation and elimination of “Mexican” schools in Orange County shortly before her birth. The issue of diversity in the courts led to discussion on Safford v Redding as an instance where diversity provides insights that are otherwise difficult for a Justice to have. The panel concluded that Kagan’s background of not being a judge, historically speaking, is not a far departure from precedent and that the historic first - three female Justices serving simultaneously on the court - could provide better insight for future rulings.

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