Commentary by Andy Rooney for Tribune Media Services
President Obama named the new Supreme Court nominee this week. Her name is Elena Kagan. Already serving on the Supreme Court are Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So if, Elena is confirmed, that will make three women Justices out of nine on the nation's high court. Sandra Day O'Connor served from 1981 until she retired in 2006. She was the first female jurist ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
It's taken a long time, but the reluctance in any country to appointing women to high government offices seems to be a thing of the past. It's my opinion — which I reveal reluctantly — that there are things men do better than women and things women do better than men. However, I don't think there's any difference in how a male judge decides cases and how a female judge makes such decisions. There's right and wrong in the world and gender doesn't enter into that equation.
I don't know how we're ever going to resolve the prejudice against women in some circles. There's no doubt that men can run faster and lift more than women and there is evidence their brains work differently, but there's no evidence that one brain works better than the other. I wouldn't dare say so if I thought so but fortunately I don't think so.
If Ms. Kagen is confirmed, she'll be only the fourth woman in history to serve on the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor is the first woman to go by just two names.
There are 76 women in the U.S. House of Representatives and 17 women in the Senate now. We've never had a woman President. I don't know what else to tell you except I think we'll have a woman President someday; not tomorrow but some day.
Women have been making their way in government for decades, and I don't think there's any real reluctance on the part of voters to put women in office. I don't think men automatically vote against them. We've grown up in that regard in the last 50 years. Women think differently from men on a lot of issues, but no one thinks men are right all the time and women are wrong all the time. The fact is, of course, they're both wrong a lot of times.
Since 1917, there have been 229 women elected to the U.S. House of Representative. Since 1922, 38 women have been elected to the Senate. This is a big change from 100 years ago.
In the past 50 years I've been in Washington, D.C. often. I've been to the House and the Senate and to lot of the offices of congressmen. The increase in the number of female politicians over the years is always apparent when I walk through the halls of the House and Senate, although the memberships remain overwhelmingly male.
For fun, I looked up figures on female members of the Russian Parliament, including their representation in the Russian State Duma, the lower house, and the Federation Council, the upper house. I was surprised to learn that there are 450 members of the Duma, of which 14 percent are women. The Federation Council consists of about 170 members, but has only a handful of women. If I ever visit Russia again it would be interesting to have lunch with a Russian woman parliamentarian.
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