I used to read a lot of science fiction. Many of the stories
were what if?
stories. Sometimes they
were interesting, but after a while, I got tired of what if?
Besides that, after a while it seems as though all of the new
are recycled versions of the old ones.
Earlier this evening, I was reading a collection
selected by Demos
regarding human enhancement technology. It is a
body of work, but the questions again seem to have been drawn from the
bin. The answers have not, which is why the collection is
worthwhile. But it was interesting questions that I was
looking for tonight.
Alas, sometimes you march off to the essay with the question you have,
not the question you wish you had.
So the question I have is this: what would it do to our society (in the
USA) if the Supreme Court always consisted of exactly one woman, and
one man, and all decisions had to be unanimous? Notice that I
am not asking whether it would be a good idea or not. Also, I
am not particularly interested in what effect this would have on case
law, except to the extent that those laws would change society.
Would this change our concept of gender equality? If so,
would it be more polarizing, or would it promote an end to the gender
wars? Would we use the same criteria for nominating and
approving the male judge and the female judge? Or would we
unconsciously think that the male judge should somehow have a different
role in the deliberations, compared to the female judge? If
so, how would we define the role of the female judge as compared to
that of the male judge?
If the court rendered a decision that you personally did not like,
would you find yourself disliking both judges equally, or would you
feel differently about them, depending upon their gender?
Would you ever find yourself believing that one gender "gave
in" to the other, and how would you feel about it? Would you
ever feel that one of the judges "betrayed" his or her gender, by
making a particular decision?
If, in this hypothetical court, both judges were required to prepare
written explanations of the reasoning for their decisions, would we be
able to read those opinions without stopping to think about the gender
of the author? How often would we say, that's
not how a woman/man should
It does seem likely that there would be a lot said and written about
the influence of gender on the process of decision-making in the
Would the endless discussion of gender issues make us all so thoughtful
and considerate, that gender conflicts would disappear entirely?
Or would all that discussion seem threatening to our
Would religious leaders feel compelled to speak out about the structure
of the court, and the proper roles of men and women in society?
Would anyone listen? Would evolutionary
psychologists be able to explain to us the differences between the
brains of male judges and female judges?