They also join one hell of a network and tend to stay clustered around each other after school. Look no further than the ultimate alumni of the Ivy ivory tower, the Supreme Court. All eight justices the retiring John Paul Stevens leaves behind belong to the club. Each one has that world-class education and a worldview that it fostered.
For some it may seem to be a trivial reason but others feel that there is a crying need for diversity on the court, for someone who got his or her education and outlook from some other elite institution of learning. Yes, shocking though it may seem, there are other "elites,” like, say, the Universities of Texas or Chicago (where the president got back in touch).
What a coincidence: Aren't those the two schools with which Judge Diane Wood is associated? She is one prospect for nomination to the court who has no Ivy on her CV.
Still, that's not the reason President Obama should consider her, even though they both professored at the University of Chicago.
Diane Wood is one of the most openly liberal of the candidates on the president's shortlist. Given the extreme agenda of the SCOTUS right-wing members, the only way to maintain any sense of balance and continue the Stevens legacy is to fill the open slot with someone who will fiercely protect the left flank.
The other wing is already well-represented by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and, usually, Kennedy.
"But wait,” you say, "doesn't the White House invite fierce opposition from the Republicans by opting for a Judge Wood or someone equally honest about his or her policies?"
And if the decision is to go for someone namby-pamby, the GOP senators will also do anything and everything they can to sabotage that pick, no matter how understated the nominee's ideology. This is an election year, after all.
The discussion is at the platitude stage now, where the players still use clichés like "judicial temperament and "judicial activism" versus "judicial restraint."
Haven't the court's most far-reaching and humane rulings been brutalized as "judicial activism" by the champions of one oppressive status quo or another?
For that matter, does anybody really believe the Supremes sing anything but unrestrained political ditties in their black choir robes?
Ignore, then, the song and dance about the Senate's "weighty decision.” This lofty battle will be fought down in the sewer of raw politics. It will have nothing to do with the nation's judicial branch of government and everything to do with the legislative branch and who controls it next year.
So the administration may as well be true to its principles and go for someone who really reflects the Obama agenda. The GOPers are already painting him as a commie prevert, so why shouldn't he nominate a card-carrying liberal so we can watch them foam at the mouth?
That's clearly the best way to go, and it doesn't take an Ivy League education to know it.
Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.