Sure, qualified women are being considered. But some are having to pass a litmus test that has nothing to do with belief systems and everything to do with body consciousness. As we wait for a nominee to be named, weight is becoming an issue in some circles. And that should turn everyone's stomach.
As Paul Campos writes in The Daily Beast, "Fat Judges Need Not Apply":
Consider the two women widely considered the frontrunners for the nomination: former Harvard Law School dean and current Solicitor General Elena Kagan, and federal appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor.I've bolded the last sentence to highlight a serious injustice in these proceedings. Weight has never appeared to be an issue for male nominees to the Supreme Court. Neither Clarence Thomas nor Antonin Scalia were skinny minnies when they were named. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is notably thin. Is that why she was nominated?
Within hours after the news broke that Souter was resigning, concerns arose that Kagan and Sotomayor might be too fat to replace him. A commentator on the site DemConWatch.com noted...Kagan and Sotomayor ďare quite overweight. Thatís a risk factor that they may not last too long on the court because of their healthĒ....
Kaganís and Sotomayorís current weights almost certainly do not even correlate with any increased mortality risk, let alone one that ought to be considered in the nomination process (for average-height women, no increased mortality risk correlating with weight begins to appear until weights above 200 pounds).
So whatís the real motivation for all the anxiety about the bodies that house two such apparently distinguished legal minds? A glance at the comments at a site such as Abovethelaw.com, which features a number of vicious attacks on Kaganís appearance, provides one clue. For some men, the only thing more intolerable than the sight of a powerful woman is the sight of a powerful woman they donít want to sleep with.
What will it take for our society to stop judging women on looks first, intelligence second? We don't do this with men. This type of gender bias is the thorn in the side of every capable, competent woman who has to constantly worry about how she looks if she wants to be viewed as worthy of consideration.
If we can't apply this simple principle of gender equity to the consideration of a Supreme Court nominee - a job where a sexy figure under a voluminous black robe doesn't make a bit of a difference - where can we expect to find justice?
Related article:History of Women on the Supreme Court