Reasonable people can disagree about whether to knock Ron Wyden for some of his positions on health care. But today, if you've read Willamette Week, you've seen that Ron is getting completely undeserved heat from some folks for the process that led to five straight white guys being recommended as the leading candidates for two Federal judgeships. I hope nobody jumps on this bash-Ron bandwagon. I am quite certain that the good Senator is himself extremely disappointed that we wound up with five white guys (as nice and talented as those white guys happen to be). But knowing how the process worked, I can't see what Ron could have done differently.
Here's the deal. Ron and Jeff Merkley appointed a 13-member selection committee. Seven of the 13 (and six of the nine members Ron appointed) were women or people from minority groups. The 13 selected their top 5 through a voting procedure in which each person's first choice got 5 points, second choice 4 points, etc. The fifth of the five recommended candidates got 18 points. That means that if, for example, four of the women on the committee had picked a woman as their top choice, a woman would have been in the top 5.
I fail to see how anyone can possibly fault Ron Wyden for the results of this process. Ron helped to select a fairly diverse selection committee. The selection committe made un-diverse choices. Ron received the committee's recommendations. What was he supposed to do?
I have heard through the grapevine that there were some great women and / or minority lawyers who everybody would have loved to see apply, but who did not. That's frustrating; we need a strong and diverse Federal bench. But we should not take our frustrations out on Ron.