Having more than one woman on the Supreme Court is partly a matter of symbolism. Before O’Connor’s retirement three years ago, Ginsburg said in a speech last month at Ohio State, “people could see that women came in all sizes and shapes, we didn’t look alike, and we didn’t talk alike. . . . Now, there I am all alone, and it doesn’t look right.”
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, which, as we know, wields a tremendous power and has a significant responsibility. With but nine seats, there is no room for the Court to be a forum for “symbolism.” We know there are capable women lawyers in the world for the Court. Obama is free to pick one of them. But by no means does he have to. And it would be a very bad idea to make the Court an experiment in bean-counting rather than excellence and committment to the Constitution.