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10/02/2018

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Matt

On the Supreme Court as a "meritocratic" institution: while the current Supreme Court is dominated by Harvard and Yale grads (*), I'd hesitate to put Harvard, Yale, the other Ivy League schools (and maybe others like Stanford and the like, though I'm less sure here) as actual, as opposed to supposed, exemplars of meritocracy. The reason why this is not so clear is the great weight given to legacy admissions in these institutions. In fact, despite his forceful claims to the contrary, Kavanaugh may have so benefited when he applied to Yale as an undergrad, as his grandfather was also a Yale grade. I'm not sure that this would get him "legacy" preference at the time, but it might have (and he certainly doesn't know that it didn't.) Admission to law school is a bit different than admission to undergrad, but "legacy" admission still plays a direct role at these schools (because of their large reliance on donors) and of course undergrad institution plays both a direct and indirect role in graduate and professional admission. So, insofar as the Supreme Court was really, as opposed to merely supposedly, a meritocratic institution, I'd think we'd see more graduates of places like Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, Texas, and others than we do. (And, the fact that Harriet Miers got her law degree from SMU wouldn't have been seen as an obvious mark against her, as it was.)

I might add that the best place to see meritocratic and/or epistocracy elements in government in in the administrative agencies, where, beyond the political top levels (and sometimes even there), technical knowledge and skill is necessary and favored, even if there are constant attempts to undermine this by political forces.

(*)Ginsberg got her law degree from Columbia, but started at Harvard and switched to Columbia for personal reasons.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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