Himsel '85 'Playing Dodgeball with Tough Issues'
September 18, 2009
Professor of Political Science and attorney Scott Himsel '85 challenged students in Chapel Thursday to maximize their liberal arts education. His talk centered on the United States Supreme Court and the recent appointment of Sonia Sotomayer.
Himsel spent a good amount of time on the much publicized "wise Latina woman' comment that generated such controversy during the summer confirmation process. But Himsel looked at the entire speech which sheds a different light on Sotomayer's intent.
He bemoaned the members of the Senate and national news media did not engage in a discussion about diversity, instead they elected to play "dodgeball" with the tough issues.
Senators compared the job of a Justice to that of a baseball umpire, calling balls and strikes. Himsel suggested the problem has become a political one because John Roberts and Samuel Alito did the exact same thing.
"The umpire myth is harmful," he said. "It has prevented a discussion and debate on the role of diversity. Does our background affect our ability to see facts and make judgments?"
He said most of America doesn't care about the balls and strikes decisions of the Supreme Court, they just care about hot button issues like abortion, gay rights, and gun laws. And, he added, the Constitution offers very little law to follow in those areas.
The big issues are tough and its tough to have an impact. But Himsel suggested Wabash men - any one person - can have a national impact. He cited Washington attorney David Kendall '66 as an example.
"Wrestling with human imperfection is what a liberal arts education is all about."