By Dr. E. Faye Williams
(Trice Edney Wire) – In February 2020, few gave full thought or consideration to the pledge that the, then, Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, made to make a Black woman his first Supreme Court nominee. Of course, any comment made by candidate Biden was subject to political pushback by members of the Trump mob, but I’m not sure that enough people thought he would win and have that pledge to keep — making that statement a huge issue. Here we are two years later. Joe Biden is President. Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Albeit a thin one, Democrats control the confirming majority in the US Senate. The nomination of a Black woman to the position of Supreme Court Justice is imminent. The racists (Republicans) can’t stand it!
Accordingly, they have responded to the certainty of the nomination of a Black woman with the expected litany of hypocritical and racist invectives. Inflammatory trigger words like “unqualified Black woman,” “Affirmative Action selection,” and “reverse racial discrimination” now fill the airwaves. Even before an actual selection is made, Republicans have made it their dedicated duty to denigrate and label the unidentified, unselected nominee as unqualified. I remain amazed by their proclamations of accurate prognostication. Smells like BS to me!
As an attorney, I claim a measure of understanding of these matters. I have seen the “list” of potential nominees and find all to be qualified and possessing the requisite experience necessary for consideration. Current circumstances only make me wonder what really makes the nomination of a Black woman so objectionable to the reactionary right.
One thing is certain, an appointment under the Biden administration will NOT alter the philosophical balance of the current justices. The same majority of six “conservative” justices will remain against three “liberals.” No shift of power! No opportunity to protect the interests of progressive ideals or persons! In fact, the opposite is true. The continuing protection of voter rights, the threat to reproductive rights, and the swing against protections against discriminatory behaviors are now all matters of grave concern.
Is this pushback against the Biden nominee because of the pledge that the nominee will be a woman? I am inclined to think that to be a significant factor. Historically, only five of the 115 Supreme Court Justices have been women.
Is this pushback against the Biden nominee because of the pledge that the nominee will be a Black woman? Combining those two factors I think that to be a more important factor. Historically, only three of the 115 Supreme Court Justices have been persons of color. The self-hatred and antipathy of one of these three justices of color to the interests of people of color negate any expectation of the just application of laws to those he disdains.
The Founders were wary of the decisions of the ultimate judicial authority resting on the shoulders of a single individual or a single judicial philosophy. The beauty of our judicial system as originally conceived is the concept of multiple justices bringing unique and diverse lived-experiences to the deliberative process.
There is no doubt that any of the women who comprise the current list of Joe Biden’s potential nominees will bring a fresh, heretofore non-existent perspective to the deliberative process of the highest court in the land. She will illuminate the racist impact, if not intent, of their decisions. She will join the other “liberal” voices in urging an increased sense of humanity in the decisions of the court.
That Black woman is welcomed. She is an essential element in a new court.