A Different Kind of Diversity

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s ascent to the Supreme Court will mark the first time an African-American woman gets named to the highest court in the land. Whether you support her ideologies or not, it would be difficult not to admire her composure during the confirmation process and impossible to overstate what her presence on the bench will mean to African American women.

Like every other justice, Jackson attended a private university for her undergraduate degree. Like every justice aside from Amy Coney Barrett, Jackson earned her law degree from an Ivy League school. Of the 18 undergraduate and professional degrees conferred by American universities to justices once Jackson replaces Bryer, 79% will come from Ivy League schools.

I certainly value the lifelong advantages offered by earning an Ivy League degree. I’m curious, though: what impact might the lack of educational diversity have on the Supreme Court?

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21 Responses to A Different Kind of Diversity

  1. Bill Arnoldus says:

    What impact could lack of educational diversity cause? Ivy League’s don’t have more/different knowledge than other universities. They could offer an opportunity of higher work ethic. A person coming from a normal university could learn the same as a person coming from an Ivy League. This means that a justice stemming from an Ivy League doesn’t necessarily mean a higher education. The fact that 79% of justice’s will come from Ivy League schools doesn’t propose an immediate impact in my opinion, certainly not a negative one. Would love to hear a different viewpoint though.

  2. Richard Zheng says:

    In higher education, it is very hard to get multiple people to conform to the same idea. With this being the case, I believe that the lack of educational diversity will not have a large impact on the Supreme Court. The merits required for being a judge or a practitioner of law is very much a test of logic rather than biases. Although, one could argue that there are multiple biases that a higher education would impose, however, these biases could also originate from their parents or influences they’ve had on their life. So, I believe that educational diversity is not the first worry when coming to biases within the Supreme Court. Walks of life or experiences will matter way more in my opinion.

  3. James says:

    I feel as if this “lack of diversity” is unable to harm the overall wellness of the Supreme Court. Ivy Leagues, while being a representation of work ethic and academic endurance, don’t necessarily represent that Ivy League alums think differently than a Tulane, Ole Miss, or Cal Tech graduate. The diversity of backgrounds, however, is an EXTREMELY important point to consider when thinking about the Supreme Court.

  4. Andrew Liu says:

    The Ivy League is widely known to be elite in education. Taking that into account, the people who graduate from these universities are likely some of the greatest thinkers and have great work ethics. However, this does not mean that those who graduated from other universities or colleges do not have the same ability. Thus, I think that the lack of cultural diversity would not have a profound effect on the Supreme Court. Furthermore, people of most backgrounds have attended Ivy League schools, which accounts for some diversity within higher education. I believe that diversity of the justices’ backgrounds is more important than that of their education, since that is likely what would determine the justices’ biases.

  5. Aaron+Sharp says:

    The supreme court, just like Ivy League schools is both self-selecting populations. By this, I mean that the same person who would be a good fit for the supreme court would also be a good fit for an Ivy League school. I think the fact that everyone on the supreme court should be well educated (because we all know what happens when an uneducated person is in power), and I think that the fact that 79% of the Justices are from Ivy League schools is a good thing. This being said, there are two types of Ivy League students. The smart ones, and the rich ones. One of these is what should be in power, and the other is what is typically in power. If of the 79%, very few of them came from rich households, then I think that this percentage is a good thing. However, if most of the Justices come from rich households then once again, it’s the rich running the poor, and the middle class/lower class do not face the same problems the upper class does, and for this reason it would be scary for 79% of the Justices to be rich.

  6. Vishnu Gadepalli says:

    Yes, I think it would be a fair claim to say that the more educated the justices on the Supreme Court are, the more educated their verdicts will be. But at the end of the day, if one makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, regardless if they attended an Ivy League or not, they obviously deserve it. If they ascended the ladder that far, then they are clearly educated enough. That is why the college that these Supreme Court justices received their education should be negligible for the most part. What should be prioritized is their ability to do their job and other merits they have accumulated over the years. I also value the diversity in regard to upbringing or background other than solely education, because like in the case of Justice Jackson, she definitely has a valuable point of view, her being the first black woman to be appointed to the highest court.

  7. Everett "CJ" Mason, Jr. says:

    Ivy Leagues are well renowned for their elite status and stupendous education. Having the Supreme Court contain only those who have had to undergo the rigorous degree at an Ivy provides its own benefits; students who attend those schools are often more creative thinkers, more determined, and more respected. However, this lack of educational diversity further promotes the stigma that only those who attend Ivy League universities are allowed to excel in some areas when this is simply not true. Many great thinkers and agents of change in today’s world either graduated from public universities or never graduated college at all.

  8. Jeremiah McClain says:

    Certainly the world won’t end if every representative on the Supreme Court got their degree from an Ivy League, but a counterargument could say that a lack of relatively smart people in the Supreme Court could lead to less relatability in an average person’s perspective. For example, an average individual might look at particular math problem and solve with it using two solutions like the directions ask in this example. But an Ivy League student might answer the question, give five solutions, and show their work. They’ll both get the same amount of credit, but the non- Ivy League person recognized that the outcome would be the same as long as they followed the directions (ideally). In other words, a Supreme Court full of Ivy-League might lead to more policies or laws that indicate a higher work ethic, not that that is a bad thing, but doing what is required and nothing is not bad thing either in this sense.

  9. Jeremiah McClain says:

    Certainly the world won’t end if every representative on the Supreme Court got their degree from an Ivy League, but a counterargument could say that a lack of relatively smart people in the Supreme Court could lead to less relatability in an average person’s perspective. For example, an average individual might look at a particular math problem and solve with using two solutions like the directions ask, for this example. But an Ivy League student might answer the question, give five solutions, and show their work. They’ll both get the same amount of credit, but the non- Ivy League person recognized that the outcome would be the same as long as they followed the directions (ideally). In other words, a Supreme Court full of Ivy-League alumni might lead to more policies or laws that indicate a higher work ethic, not that that is a bad thing, but doing what is required and nothing more is not bad thing either in this sense.

  10. Ivy League schools have low acceptance rates, but I believe this is just a competitive exclusivity measure, not a determinate of the quality of education given. This is a prestigious title, no matter my opinion, and respect is associated with acceptance, which is important in the Supreme Court, especially for women. Diversity might be slightly impacted by the typical individuals who attend and the environment, students that are stressed and striving for perfection in competitive conditions. Many share the same mindset towards success, they do not believe in failure. This is valuable in the Supreme Court, and I am sure some people who have experienced more failure than success could offer insight that these individuals could not, but I am sure this has little impact.

  11. Although only accepting Supreme Court members from Ivy League schools seems to uphold our country to a high standard, it is not as efficient as it is meant to be. Only taking applicants from a certain pool of schools lowers the educational diversity which can be drastic. People who are exposed to limited diversity and seemingly endless education tend to be extremely arrogant, and those traits are literally the standard for justices of the Supreme Court. The people who are in the Supreme Court should be the most intelligent representations of our country, but we are not allowing representation to occur.

  12. Geethika Polepalli says:

    Each school has a distinctive way of teaching its students. If everyone on the Supreme Court has gone to a similar school, then all of the judges appointed will have the same type of way of approaching a problem. Of course, each judge has their own beliefs and opinions that will influence their decisions in Court, however, all of them going to the same school will also have the same impact on all of their decisions and no diversity will be seen in certain aspects of Court. There is no doubt that the Ivy League schools provide a wonderful education that is incomparable to most universities in the United States. But having all of these judges have the same kind of way to approach a case overall hinders other values that are not able to be pointed out when the case is in trial.

  13. Hong Zheng says:

    I doubt that there would be much impact within the Supreme Court. Yes, many Supreme Court justices might be from an Ivy league, but other students from different colleges and different backgrounds also play a major role in the Supreme Court. Ivy league students are the cream of the crop when it comes to overall education, but there are other students and individuals out there with uncharted passion and drive only for law. Those people might not get into Ivy Leagues, but they’ve lived their life determined to be one within the Supreme Court. Their experience, passion, and drive are far more important than the lack of educational diversity.

  14. Laya says:

    It may seem that Ivy Leagues are the best and brightest in our country, but that is simply not true. There are many more intelligent people in colleges across the country, that just are not financially available to go to such a prestigious school. They are picking the richest and smartest of the many to make decisions for the rest. These judges may not know how different it actually is for lower-income people. They may hear or research about it, but they do not actually know. This results in such a narrow way of making decisions. Although the Supreme Court’s ideologies may be different, the way they were trained to think are similar due to their similar learning styles in the Ivy League they attended.

  15. I don’t believe that the lack of educational diversity would have much of an impact. That kind of education puts you in a diverse environment that opens your mind to many different cultures and ideas. When you’re talking about the justice system in the supreme court, being predisposed to this way of thinking is very important for providing equal justice to everybody. With that being said you don’t need an ivy league degree in order to provide fair justice to everyone. All an ivy league degree shows is that you’re capable of achieving very hard things.

  16. Jenna De Ochoa says:

    I think that the overwhelming majority of Ivy League Degrees can decrease empathy with the lower class of American citizens. When people think of Ivy Leagues, country clubs and golfing tournaments easily come to mind. While this may be a stereotype, it is not completely wrong. Only students with access to reliable income or extreme need-based assistance are able to attend Ivy League colleges. This can lead to a substantial gap between the supreme court’s experiences and the experiences of the lower class. How can someone solve a problem when they have no understanding of the circumstances? I understand that the justices do not need to grow up desolate in order to have sympathy, however, I think that the court needs a better understanding of citizens in a different tax bracket than most Ivy League students.

  17. Arika Gardner says:

    The lack of educational diversity will likely not have an impact on the Supreme Court. No matter your education, your ideas do not only derive just from what you know but also what you believe in. Education does not change beliefs and values which is also what they take into account when determining laws. The same things they learned at their ivy league can be easily obtained from any other high ranking college in this country. You don’t need a J.D or Honor in front of you name to understand when things are just and when they are not.

  18. Cali Orman says:

    I had never thought of diversity in higher level education as something that could be an issue. It does seem possible that if everyone has the same education it may create a mainstream way of thinking and approaching problems. If everyone is approaching things the same way there is potential for problems to arise. But i don’t think it as a problem for everyone on the supreme court to have similar education as long as this is not causing long term restricts on those who can not afford this education. Which could restrict people from different backgrounds from reaching these levels of achievement.

  19. Nicolas Neal says:

    I’m going to evade the question at hand by instead addressing a correlated trend to the high density of ivy league graduates in the supreme court. The majority of lawmakers in Congress are millionaires, and according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of new personal financial disclosures, all nine justices are, too, millionaires. This concentration of wealth serves to explain these politicians noticeable capacities to have attended expensive ivy league universities. Whichever school Ketanji B. Jackson or Amy Coney Barrett attended is less remarkable than their exertion of political power under the influence of their class interests that are shared by only the most affluent slice of the United States population.

  20. Jeremy Dawe says:

    Supreme court justices achieving a level of higher education does not present a problem as it allows them to make better education decisions. The lack of educational diversity is itself correlated with a lack of socieoeconomic diversity. This presents a problem as the best decisions will be informed by perspecitives from different backgrounds. The wealth that allows these supreme court justices to achieve an Ivy League education poses a larger problem than attending an Ivy League school itself.

  21. Sephora Carly Poteau says:

    Because those that are supreme court justices are a part of prestigious colleges that do not factor in the experiences of those who cannot afford those luxuries. their views could be extremely narrow. Perhaps a view that looks at the different types of education can be better

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