I blogged earlier about Donald Trump's proposed list of potential replacements for Justice Scalia's open seat. The stories I have seen thus far are largely of the "I can't believe that it's this reasonable," "I like the list but don't trust Trump," or "they are conservative ideologues" varieties. But to me, the biggest story is that this list of eleven potential jurists is entirely white people.
I certainly don't mean that as an attack on the nominees themselves. They are all established jurists with distinguished records and solid credentials. Given their qualifications, it is not surprising that a number of conservative commentators have reacted positively. And the nominees didn't ask for this scrutiny. For the most part, it looks like they were not asked or even informed that they would be on any sort of Supreme Court list -- a fairly shocking lack of professional courtesy. (Of course, Trump gave out Lindsey Graham's cell phone number for fun -- remember that?)
But there's no getting around the fact they they are all white. This list is a purely symbolic gesture. Trump has made no commitment to use the list, and it's kind of absurd to be releasing a list of eleven -- eleven! -- names for one nomination that is entirely hypothetical at this point. The list is meaningless, at least in terms of an actual nomination -- it's just political theater. And in many ways, the list is "a very wide mix of judges," in terms of geography and background. But they are all conservative -- and they are all white.
So for this purely symbolic gesture, which Donald Trump put out to show what types of people he would choose to run the country, Trump could not find one African-American, one Latino, one Asian-American, or any other non-white person to put on this list. And it's not like he just had a list of two or three people. This one goes to eleven! It's strange enough to put out a list of eleven potential nominees. But then to have such a lack of racial diversity -- that is a statement. And this statement in the context of accusations that Trump was too slow to disclaim white supremacist supporters, that Trump doggedly held onto the birther accusations well past their plausibility, that Trump's entire campaign is based on a white nationalist platform. For Trump to put out an eleven (eleven!) person list with all white people on it is at best incredibly tin-eared, and at worst diabolically intentional.
People may not want to highlight this issue for fear of being accused of playing the race card. But with this list, Trump has already played it.