It was a promise made on the campaign trail: Then candidate Joe Biden assured supporters that if elected President, he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court of the United States. Last week it became clear that that promise would be tested when it was announced that Justice Stephen Breyer would retire from the court later this year.
Since the news broke, many have weighed in on the decision that could forever change the face of the nations highest court. And while many are praising Biden’s commitment to diversifying the bench, the idea of a Black woman justice is ruffling some feathers on the right. Senators who once praised Donald Trump’s promise to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court to replace Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg are now criticizing Biden’s very similar pledge.
“The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I got to say that’s offensive,” Senator Ted Cruz said this week. “You know, Black women are what, 6 percent of the U.S. population? He’s saying to 94 percent of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible.’” Cruz expressed excitement at the promise and confirmation
For more than two centuries, the nine judicial seats that make up this powerful body have been occupied by mostly white men. In fact, 108 of the 115 Supreme Court justices have been white men. The appointment of Thurgood Marshall would shake up the court in 1967. The first woman would come more than a decade later after a promise Reagan made to put a woman on the bench. There is now an opportunity to make the court more representative of society, and there’s infinite chatter on who that should be.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, a federal judge has been seen as a potential nominee, as has Judge J. Michelle Childs, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Sherrilyn Ifill, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, and a handful of qualified others.
Biden’s nomination is of critical importantance. In addition to a Supreme Court nomination being a lifelong position, many believe that the President’s political future and legacy is dependent on his ability to deliver a Black woman to the highest court in the land.