The Supreme Court is losing some its geographic diversity as Elena Kagan prepares to become the fourth sitting justice from New York City, replacing Illinois native Justice John Paul Stevens. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have noticed.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said at Kagan’s confirmation hearing today that he would like to see “greater diversity on the Court in other ways — including representation from Midwestern and Western states.”
“It is important that all Americans feel the Court represents their life experiences and their values,” Feingold continued, “and I think one of the best ways to accomplish that is by selecting candidates for this position who reflect the full diversity of this great country.”
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) chimed in with a reference to the 2006 retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a former Arizona state judge and state senator. “I notice it’s been [four] years now since we had an Arizonan on the Court,” Kyl said, prompting some laughter in the audience.
President Barack Obama’s first nominee to the Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is also a native New Yorker. Of the previous two successful nominees, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. is from New Jersey while Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. grew up in Indiana but spent almost his entire adult life in Washington.
The other New Yorkers: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.