Newcomer women change dynamics of Supreme Court oral arguments

‘You may have the votes, but you’re going to have a fight.’

That’s Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank’s takeaway from yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court argument on the Voting Rights Act.

3justicesPrompting the quote was the battery of questions that the newcomer Justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, aimed at arguments of their longest-serving colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia. By Milbank’s account, more than once the newcomers challenged Scalia’s comments. Sotomayor, he wrote, is given to “blunt” interruption; Kagan, “sharp-witted” observation.

Often heard in gender-parity talks is this question: Are women so different from men — more caring, perhaps — that more women in high places would change things? Milbank’s account answers “yes” — that, regardless of eventual outcome, strengthening women’s voices may broaden the frame of debate. (credit for 2010 Steve Petteway/Supreme Court photo, of, from left, Justices Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Kagan)

Turns out many women, no less than many men, will fight to the teeth for their beliefs.

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