In June, President Joe Biden submitted a list of his seven latest judicial selections, bringing to 24 the number of nominations he had made since taking office. One thing has become very clear in his doing so – he has rejected taking the same approach as coaches in the National Football League do in selecting their players.
Before discussing the different approaches, an important observation is necessary about today’s news reporting. For the most part, where the media report on violence, they most often fail to identify the race of either the victim or the perpetrator, perhaps influenced by a desire not to stigmatize one race over another. Compare this to Biden’s announcement about his judicial nominees. While appropriately highlighting the achievements that qualify them for nomination, he also made sure to mention those who were of minority ethnicity, suggesting that was an important factor in his selection process.
A 2019 American Bar Association report notes that 85% of all lawyers are white. With the balance obviously being members of minority groups, some attorneys expressed concerns over Biden’s focus of giving heavier weight to diversity, disregarding both performance and proportionality. Their concern is appropriate since not a single one of Biden’s judicial nominees is white.
It is interesting to compare Biden’s approach to that taken by coaches in the NFL.
There is clearly but a single-minded objective an NFL coach has and that is to field the best team possible – one that he has pieced together to make a successful run all the way to the Super Bowl. A coach’s livelihood, as well as fan support, is dictated by success on the gridiron. Therefore, any coach wants to be able to place the most qualified player in each position on his team. Diversity does not influence that decision-making process; performance strictly does.
Black males represent only 6% of the U.S. population. However, today, 70% of NFL players are black. This belies a stark reality of professional football – black players perform better than their white competitors do. And, since a coach is charged with fielding a winning team, he turns a blind eye to competing players’ skin color as his selections are dictated by player performance alone.
Statistically, the number of blacks dominates the number of whites playing in every defensive position in the NFL (for example, 99.4% of cornerbacks are black) and, on offense, the same is true for the positions of running backs (86%) and wide receivers (91%). We have yet to hear complaints about the NFL being racist by placing a disproportionately higher number of blacks on the football field than whites. Interestingly too, while we have heard complaints about the NFL being racist by failing to field enough black quarterbacks (only 18%), the same complaint has not been made for the less glamorous position of center – a position dominated by white players (75%).
When it comes to race, the NFL pretty much applies the gold standard: Skin color be damned, performance alone dictates one’s qualifications for a position.
Rather than touting the overwhelming diversity of his judicial nominations, Biden should be applying this same standard.
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