Florida’s Supreme Court. Is diversity for the sake of diversity right?

Florida’s Supreme Court. Is diversity for the sake of diversity the best idea? 

Excerpt: The state NAACP demanded Friday that the nomination process for three appointments to the Florida Supreme Court be reopened after a list of 11 nominees did not include any African-Americans.  

The call came a day after The News Service of Florida reported that the Supreme Court will not have a black justice for the first time in 36 years when Justice Peggy Quince leaves the bench on Jan. 8. Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference, said in a statement that Gov. Rick Scott and the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission have “failed the people of Florida.”   “No recent governor has allowed appointees to return a slate that doesn’t reflect the diversity of Florida,” Nweze said. “It’s a shame and disgrace we are still fighting for equality at all levels of government for black people and particularly representation on the state Supreme Court.”   Nweze said the nominating commission, which released its 11 nominees on Tuesday, should reconvene and reconsider six African-American applicants who were among a pool of 59 lawyers and judges seeking appointment to the Supreme Court.   She also called on Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, who takes office next month and who will make the appointments, to “stand up to” Scott and the nominating panel “and demand what all other prior governors did with a slate that reflects the diversity of our state.”   Under a 2001 law, the nine-member commissions include five members directly appointed by the governor, with four members recommended by The Florida Bar and appointed by the governor.  

Bottom Line: Let me start out by saying that I’ve not vetted and cross referenced all of the potential candidates to know the pros and cons of each. That’s why we have a commission specifically created to make recommendations to the governor. To that end I don’t know if it’s a miss that a black candidate isn’t being considered. What I do want to challenge is that idea that justice is only served with race as a factor. Once again, I’ll remind the NAACP and all who place race above character – that they’re directly defying what Martin Luther King Jr. stated that he wanted. Here’s the quote once again from his “Dream” speech: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. 

No comprehensive argument is being made that one of the six black candidates is superior to other nominees based on merit or character. Rather it’s simply that one of them isn’t a nominee. That’s everything that’s wrong with these types of arguments. Diversity for the sake of diversity is never the right answer. The African-American population is 12% of the United States. 74% of the NBA is black. 70% of NFL players are black as well. Should we have substantially more diverse players in those leagues to represent the cities and states they play in or is it best for the top players in the league to represent these teams based on merit?  

If someone wants to have a merit-based discussion – I’ll listen. If all someone wants to do is play the race card – I'll refer you back to MLK Jr. It’d serve you well to learn from his message. It’s better late than never.

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