President Obama could achieve something of coup by nominating an Asian-American to fill the vacancy caused by the untimely passing of Supreme Court Justice Scalia.
First, Obama would go down in history as the first president to nominate an Asian-American to the Court. And second, by doing so, it would make it more difficult to block Obama’s attempt to get a replacement for Scalia through during his remaining term. If the Republicans were to block the nomination of an Asian, many Asian-Americans would hold it against the GOP, both in the November presidential election and beyond.
I’m generally not a fan of ethnic-identity politics, and I find many claims of racism more perceived than real. But I am a proponent of Affirmative Action (if properly handled), particularly from the point of view of providing role models. Having an Asian on the Court would show Asian-American kids — and even more importantly, their parents — that study of STEM is not the be-all-and-end-all of education, that being a good writer and speaker is hugely important, that government MATTERS, and so on.
Several Asian-American names are being mentioned in the press being under consideration. Possibly the most interesting one politically is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is a “3-fer”: black, South Asian and female. I’m an admirer, but she’s never been a judge, and is more ideological than I believe a Justice should be.
As a fan of Bernie and The Donald, my choice would be Judge Lucy Koh, who has shown intellectual mettle, courage and grace in standing up to tech industry shenanigans.
By the way, just what do I mean by Asian-American? Normally I dislike analyses that distinguish between natives and the naturalized, which frequently have a hidden agenda of obfuscating whatever issue is at hand. But for the Court, we need someone steeped in American history, culure and sensibilities. Any Justice should at least have grown up in the U.S., if not born here.
If Trump were to meet Koh, I have a feeling he might not say, “Delay, delay, delay” regarding filling the vacancy.