Almost all the Supreme Court justices attended law school at either Harvard or Yale, as did President Obama's latest nominee.
If confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan will bring greater diversity to the court by adding a third woman. What she will not bring is educational diversity. Her confirmation will leave the court entirely composed of former law students at either Harvard or Yale.
Why should we care? When you virtually exclude all but two of the nation's 160 law schools as sources for justices, it not only reduces the number of outstanding candidates but guarantees a certain insularity in training and influences on the court. This bias is not only elitist but decidedly anti-intellectual. Moreover, there is no objective basis for favoring these two schools.
If Obama had looked more broadly at outstanding graduates from other schools, he might have found someone with more professional experience, a more extensive writing record or some actual experience in the judiciary.
The favoritism shown Harvard and Yale should be viewed not just as incestuous but as scandalous. It undermines educational institutions across the country by maintaining a clearly arbitrary and capricious basis for selection. It also runs against the grain of a nation based on meritocracy and opportunity.
If there is one place in the world that should be free of such baseless bias, it is the Supreme Court of the United States. But that would require looking a bit west and south from the banks of the Charles River.