Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Still Work to Do

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Still Work to Do

Article excerpt

An episode titled "The Short List" in the first season of the NBC drama The West Wing began with the celebration of White House staff over the prospect of a "slam dunk" confirmation of a prospective Supreme Court nominee, Peyton Cabot Harrison III. It was noted that he was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy--one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the nation. He not only went to Princeton for his undergraduate degree, but Harvard for his law degree. He was the editor of the Harvard Law Review and went on to eventually become dean of Harvard Law School.

Yet apparently, White House staff ran into a hiccup when they discovered within Harrisons legal writings a lack of support for the right to privacy, long cherished in American society and jurisprudence. Then the president decides to take the advice of the retiring justice and nominates Roberto Mendoza, memorably played by Edward James Olmos.

Mendoza's education was not quite as blue chip as Harrisons. It was noted that Mendoza went to a literally no-name school, P.S. 138 in Brooklyn, the City University of New York and the New York Police Academy, and went to law school at night after taking a desk job when he was shot in the line of duty. Following some twists and turns, the White House staff is shown celebrating when the decisive vote is cast in the Senate to confirm Mendoza in a later episode.

Indeed, a seat on the Supreme Court is probably the most sought-after job in all jurisprudence. Though the president is term limited and members of Congress have to stand for election and re-election, an appointment to the high court is for life and comes with a lifetime full-salary pension benefit.

Though the confirmation of the fictional Mendoza made for good drama, one wonders if a talented jurist with Mendoza's background would actually be considered for a seat on the real Supreme Court. As the high court once again considers whether to strike down the use of affirmative action in admissions at The University of Texas at Austin as of press time, I had to take notice when one justice was overheard wondering if it matters if elite institutions reduce the number of underrepresented students they admit.

Another justice was overheard saying that elite schools may be too advanced for some Black students, who could fare better at slower-paced colleges in terms of career outcomes. Yet as I ponder the downplaying of the value of elite institutions for underrepresented minorities, I thought I would take a look at the education of the justices currently on the Supreme Court. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.