Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Non-Moms on the Supreme Court

The New York Times recently ran an interesting article prompted by Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court as a non-mom.  The author writes:

“I wish she were a mother,” a feminist friend said when Kagan was nominated. “This sends the wrong message.”

But what exactly makes it wrong? Is it because there is some inherent “good” to being a parent — a quality of compassion or tolerance, a worldview beyond your own mortality — that would serve a justice well? Some argue that there is. “A jurist with a mama bear lurking inside,” writes Hilary Shenfeld at, would give the Supreme Court someone who has “wiped away dirt and tears, helped with homework and heartache, made as many decisions as dinners, really listened and really heard.”

Perhaps. But while parenthood certainly influences the way you see the world, it does not influence it in any predictable way. There are studies that show legislators become more conservative as they have more daughters, others that find that male executives become champions of women’s rights in the workplace when they raise girls. So it is, at best, a footnote in predicting how a judge will rule from the bench.

Read the full article here.


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