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U.S. Supreme Court

Retired Justice Would Like More Midwesterners and Westerners on the Court

Posted Nov 16, 2010 10:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Retired Justice John Paul Stevens would like to see more geographic and educational diversity on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Stevens responded to a question about diversity this way: “Personally, I would like to see more Midwesterners or Westerners and not as many from the Ivy League schools,” he said. “But that does not mean any one of them is not fully qualified. It's a problem that there are only so many seats available.”

In a follow-up Stevens was asked whether diverging political views were important. “I suppose, but I was using the term to mean diversity as between different parts of the country and different backgrounds,” he said. “For example, we don't have any former legislators on the court. Different backgrounds are helpful because you do get different insights in your group discussions.”

Currently, eight members of the U.S. Supreme Court are graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools while the ninth, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, graduated from Columbia Law School after transferring there from Harvard.

Stevens was born and raised in Chicago, where he attended Northwestern University School of Law. He graduated first in his class.

The other retired justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, had served in the Arizona state senate and attended Stanford Law School.

Stevens also told the Chronicle that he found work on the Supreme Court stimulating and the cases always interesting. “Over and over again, I remember seeing a case on the horizon that I thought was going to be a real dog and have no interest to me whatsoever,” he said. “But when you get into it you find that there are interesting angles to almost every case that gets all the way up here.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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