With 108 of 115 Supreme Court justices white men, Biden’s Black woman justice pick is about time

Biden’s potential picks are “extraordinary people,” who have already been ground-breaking “firsts,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SHARE With 108 of 115 Supreme Court justices white men, Biden’s Black woman justice pick is about time
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Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, will steer President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court pick through the confirmation hearing.

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WASHINGTON — Since the Supreme Court was created in 1789, there have been 115 justices.

All have been white men except for Black justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas and the women on the high court, Sandra Day O’Connor; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Elena Kagan; and Amy Coney Barrett, who are white, and Sonia Sotomayor, the only Hispanic justice in the history of this nation.

That’s 108 white men. It’s obvious by the sheer number that thumbs have been on the scale for Supreme Court picks when it comes to race and gender. The flawed selection process — considering only white men — produced unfair results.

Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last week, giving President Joe Biden his first Supreme Court pick. He will nominate a Black woman to take his place.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair and the number two Democrat in the Senate, will steer the historic nomination through confirmation hearings and a floor vote.

Biden is following through on a promise he made during the campaign to tap the first Black woman for the court. Former President Donald Trump delivered on his campaign pledge to name justices only from the conservative Federalist Society list.

Former Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in a tweet said it “would be nice” if Biden picked a nominee “who was best qualified without a race/gender litmus test.”

This is ridiculous.

President Ronald Reagan promised to nominate a woman, and that’s why O’Connor was the first woman on the court. After Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, 2020, weeks before the election, Trump said he would take a woman off the Federalist list to replace her and he did, selecting Barrett.

“This is not the first time that a president has signaled what they’re looking for in a nominee,” Durbin said Sunday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., made uninformed assumptions when he said in an interview — talking about “affirmative racial discrimination” cases before the court —that Biden’s pick will be “someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.”

Durbin, asked to react to Wicker, made the point that any Black woman lawyer under consideration for the Supreme Court has already “achieved the level of success in the practice of law and jurisprudence. They’ve done if it against great odds. They’re extraordinary people,” who have already been ground-breaking “firsts.”

“Usually the first of anything in the United States turns out to be extraordinary in their background. And the same is true here,” said Durbin.

Democrats, who may lose control of the Senate in the November midterm elections, have a sense of urgency to get the Biden nominee confirmed quickly. Barrett, who was already a federal appeals judge for the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, sprinted through in 27 days, confirmed on Oct. 26, 2020, days before Trump lost the election.

The lists of potential Biden Supreme Court nominees include several women who have already been picked by Biden for spots on the federal bench. With Democrats in a hurry, this gives them an edge, because their paperwork has been submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee and they have been vetted.

Durbin told Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that when it comes to timing, “Someone who’s been before the committee in the previous year or two, it makes a real difference.”

The speculation list included Judge J. Michelle Childs of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Biden nominated her for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was a big cheerleader for his home state potential pick in an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He was all but a yes vote in advance.

Said Graham, “Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America.

“Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her. She is highly qualified.”

Biden — as did Trump — is looking for younger nominees for the lifetime appointments so their judicial influence can extend through decades.

Said Durbin, on NBC, “I have a lot of my friends here in Chicago who are attorneys in their 60s who would like to cap off their career by being a federal judge. It doesn’t really make sense.”

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