Friday, May 14, 2010

Why do Dems have so much more academic firepower on the Judiciary committee?

5 comments:

bachrach44 said...

I would guess (and I don't have facts to back this up, but it's a strong hunch) that this trend is much larger than the judiciary committee. If you did a similar comparison of the entire senate, or even the house or state governors, I'll bet you would find the same thing. The reason seems to be that the path for Democratic legislators seems to come from law school and academia, while the path for republican legislators seems to come largely from the military and the private sector.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think a perusal of entire Senate body suggests that the Judiciary committee Democrats are pretty atypical. I think they are atypical in a few ways. As I previously pointed out to you Zev, the JC Democrats are heavily Jewish (6 or 7 out of 11). That may play a role in the pedigree difference. They are also disproportionately from the Northeast (7 out of 11). They are from disproportionately liberal states. Every one of the eleven Democrats is from a state that has gone Democrat in each of the last five presidential elections. I don't believe that's random.
I have long thought that the Democrats intentionally put only their more left-wing members on the Judiciary committee. No need to have any of their nominal pro-life members get involved with judicial politics.

Of course, Arlen Specter was put on the committee by the GOP.I don't think that detracts from my case that the Democrats had a political reason for stacking the committee as they did.

Shmuli

Zev said...

I am not inclined to compose a full Senate academic record, but Jeff Bingaman Harvard/Stanford JD, Joe Lieberman Yale/Yale JD, Frank Lautenberg Columbia, Harry Ried Utah State/ GW JD, Maria Cantwell Miami University, Ohio, Michael Bennet Wesleyan/Yale JD, Ken Salazar Colorado College/Michigan JD.

So not every Dem is Ivy educated, but many are (and they are not all on the JC or in the NE, though there is likely a correlation). Which Republican Senators went to top 10 undergrad or grad programs? If the Dems choose to put their "intellectuals' on the JC, why don't Reps do so as well? Also, how many of the Justices themselves have spent considerable time in the NE? Seems like a breeding ground for lawyers.

Zev said...

I left off Franken from the D side of the JC. He went Harvard undergrad.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats are not putting "intellectuals" on the JC. They are putting liberals. I suggest that because this leads to a disproportionate number of Jews and Northeasterners (I am amused that you addressed the latter but not the former)it will also lead to a disproportionate number of Ivy Leaguers or the like. The Democrats were not going to put Joe Lieberman on the JC, sterling pedigree and all, because he was always considered moderate.

Insofar as you think the Democrats are intentionally placing their "intellectuals" on the JC, why do you think they would do that? Al Franken may be smart, but he's not bringing any legal expertise to the table (he is another Jew, adding to that lopsidedness). I thing putting Franken on the JC is more consistent with Ideological selection than intellectual selection. I do not recall that the JC Democrats were thought to have done a good job "sparring" with Roberts and Alito. Your notion that the Democrats are intentionally loading the JC with intellectual firepower to their advantage just doesn't make sense to me.

Shmuli