« Ohio legislature developing special teen "sexting" criminal law | Main | "Defendant's Gender Affects Length of Sentence" »

May 27, 2010

Interesting commentary on the state of debate over SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan

Dahlia Lithwick has this interesting and amusing essay up at Slate, headlined "The Kagan Kids: Why the younger generation doesn't care about the debate over the latest Supreme Court nominee."  Here are excerpts:

As the Elena Kagan Bore'Em to Death Tour rolls on into Memorial Day weekend, it's clear that almost no narrative about her is going to stick.  A CBS poll released today shows that almost three weeks after her nomination for the Supreme Court, 72 percent of Americans have yet to form an opinion on her.  And since she's all but disappeared from the front pages, it's not clear how we're going to get to know her better before the confirmation hearings, which are scheduled for the end of June.  The meta-narrative about Kagan seems to be that there is no meta-narrative about Kagan.  This doubtless makes the White House very happy....

Every time I've been on a radio show on the subject of Kagan's wardrobe/softball playing/marital status, some twentysomething caller has taken me to school.  It turns out, they invariably tell me, that twentysomethings just don't care if their Supreme Court justices are black, white, Jewish, Protestant, gay, or straight.  Every day someone under the age of 30 either sends me an e-mail or tweet or a Facebook post reminding me that those of us making a huge big fat media deal about the nominee's race, religion, sexual preferences or marital status are quickly becoming cultural dinosaurs.

Young people reading Robin Givhan's article on Kagan's scandalously open knees think they're reading something hilarious from their grandparents' stack of dating magazines from the 1950s.  When they hear us yelping about racial diversity at the court, they think about the fact that their classrooms are already incredibly diverse and their Facebook friendships span continents.  When they hear us shrieking over women's softball, they shake their Title IX heads and figure we're just idiots for thinking straight women don't play sports.  And when they hear us whispering behind our hands about whether someone is gay, most of them tell me they think we're just freaking idiots.  Just as they embody Barack Obama's post-racial America, they identify almost completely with Kagan's post-gender America — in which womanhood simply isn't defined by skirts, babies, or boyfriends anymore.

Never has my own obsolescence thrilled me more.  As those of us in the media continue to relitigate the 1960s — from the Civil Rights Act to Vietnam — the people who will live through Kagan's decades-long tenure at the court have moved on.  The debate over identity politics will take on new meaning over the next few decades, I'm sure.  But it probably won't mean bickering about Kagan's color, race, or gender. What I hear on these call-in shows is pretty much what recent polling of the millenials reflects: They care passionately about the economy, and they are ambivalent about the government.  They are far more tolerant than their parents about race and sexual choice; they aren't so in love with the idea of marriage; and religion just isn't as big an issue as we think it is.  And they seem to be telling me, over and over again, that when it comes to a Supreme Court nomination, they value competence and intelligence over the check-the-box identity politics.

May 27, 2010 at 09:04 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201348216574f970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Interesting commentary on the state of debate over SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan:

Comments

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB