Friday, 19 October 2007

Racial Quotas Watch

On Sunday I wrote about Vivienne Westwood's desire to force fashion magazines to put a certain percentage of non-white models on their front covers. As I wrote at the time, I thought that this was a particularly bad idea, particularly since there was not even any actual evidence to establish that widespread discrimination was taking place. However, Westwood's authoritarian demands were positively benign, when compared with recent comments by Britain's only black High Court judge:
Mrs Justice Dobbs also raised the idea of quotas to increase the numbers of women and non-white judges. She challenged the Judicial Appointments Commission - which believes that quotas would undermine the principle that judges are appointed on merit - by arguing that merit would not be an issue if there were enough good candidates from the ethnic minorities.
Of course, there is nothing to suggest that the introduction of quotas would have the effect of increasing the number of good non-white or female candidates. Rather it would have the effect of artificially increasing the number of successful non-white or female candidates, which is a very different thing altogether.

I am not aware that Mrs Justice Dobbs has alleged that any discrimination against non-white and female candidates is occurring during the appointments process. Certainly she does not appear to have produced any evidence of discrimination. As such, it can only be inferred that the reason non-white/female applicants are not being appointed in large numbers to the High Court bench is that, for one reason or another, an impartial appointments commission is deeming them to be inferior to other candidates. On this basis, it would appear that Dobbs's proposals would result in the appointment of judges who at present are being turned down as inferior candidates, while superior candidates were rejected, for no reason other than that they were white men. Clearly, this would have far more significance than simply turning down a would-be Vogue cover girl for being white. The notion of inferior candidates sitting on the bench as a result of racial quotas has profound implications for the administration of justice. Justice requires that the best candidates be appointed as judges. It is questionable whether this is what happens at the moment, but it is patently obvious that this is not what will happen if Mrs Justice Dobbs has her way, and, as such, it is to be hoped that her proposals will be strongly resisted.

1 comment:

JuliaM said...

"...merit would not be an issue if there were enough good candidates from the ethnic minorities."

If there were enough good candidates from the ethnic minorities, they'd be getting through already, wouldn't they...?