Gender and sexual orientation matter more than judicial philosophy and experience, at least according to the CBS "Early Show" on May 14.
The morning news program focused its discussion of only two of the potential Supreme Court nominees - two openly gay women.
Co-anchor Julie Chen announced the story saying, "Washington is all a buzz over the two openly gay women under consideration." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante's story followed, which he began by asking "Is America ready for a gay Supreme Court justice?"
Justice David Souter announced his resignation from the Court on May 1 giving President Barack Obama his first opportunity to nominate one of the nine Supreme Court justices. The balance of the Court is not expected to change with the departure of the liberal justice.
Plante's story included Brian Moulton, Senior Legal Counsel to Human Rights Campaign, and Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor of Slate. Moulton said the country was ready and it would be a "tremendous and historic thing." Lithwick complained that the current makeup of the Court doesn't represent enough minority groups.
This segment ignored opposition to the nominees based on their judicial philosophy and actual qualifications and Plante even claimed "Republican leaders aren't opposed." He quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who said "I don't think a person who acknowledges that they have gay tendencies is disqualified."
"The Early Show" did briefly mention the background of these two nominees. Pamela Karlan is a Stanford Law professor who clerked for a Supreme Court justice and Kathleen Sullivan a former Dean of Stanford Law School and a constitutional scholar. But aside from those statements, the entire CBS segment focused on identity politics and what minority group would be represented on the Court.
ABC and NBC morning shows on May 14 both did a better job of covering potential nominees. "Good Morning America" had a short segment with George Stephanopoulos who named the top three potential nominees and discussed three others with a picture and brief comment about each and their roles in the judiciary.
NBC's "Today" even found a critical voice to include. White House correspondent Pete Williams said, "The President says he wants someone with empathy. Already the Senate's Republican leaders are balking at that."
NBC quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said, "I thought empathy implied you were already on somebody's side before you heard the case."