Biden confirms he will keep promise to nominate Black woman to fill SCOTUS vacancy

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced this week that he will be retiring after the high court’s current term, opening up a seat on the bench for President Joe Biden to fill.

Along the campaign trail, Biden vowed that if such a vacancy opened up during his tenure in the White House, he would fill the slot with a qualified Black woman. Now, he and his allies have confirmed that the president will be keeping his promise.

“It’s long overdue”

Speaking at a Thursday White House event announcing Breyer’s retirement, Biden reaffirmed his commitment to picking a Black woman for the job.

“Choosing someone to sit on the Supreme Court, I believe, is one of the most serious constitutional responsibilities a president has,” Biden said, according to a transcript. “Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency.”

Biden also said he’s “been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings,” but has “made no decisions except one.” He went on:

The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.

“It’s long overdue, in my view,” Biden said. “I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.”

“You can’t just say it”

According to Fox News, Biden’s allies have also confirmed he’s committed to the cause.

In an interview Thursday with The Washington Post, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) — who almost single-handedly helped the then-struggling candidate Biden win the South Carolina primary — said his own adult daughters feel “insulted” by the fact that there has not yet been a Black woman nominated or confirmed to the nation’s highest court.

“And so I took that issue up with then-candidate Biden back in 2020, that I thought that the time had arrived for us to do something about that,” the congressman explained, according to Fox. “How many times have you heard it said that Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party? Well, you just can’t say it. You’ve got to show it.” Clyburn went on:

And so President Biden made it a commitment at the Charleston debate back in February two years ago, and said that if he got the opportunity, he would appoint or nominate an African American woman to serve on the court. And he has reiterated in recent days that he plans to keep that commitment.

“Deficiencies in the past processes”

Also in his interview with the Post, Clyburn took the time to talk up District Court Judge Michelle Fields, a South Carolina native who Biden has already nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, as his top choice to fit the bill: a Black female judge with ample experience in the legal realm who could conceivably draw support from Democrats and even some Republicans.

Biden, for his part, hasn’t named any names when it comes to his shortlist of candidates. But already, his press secretary is laying the groundwork for pre-emptive attacks against critics of Biden’s eventual nominee: In a recent press briefing, Jen Psaki strongly insinuated that criticism of Biden’s pick would be rooted in bigotry, rather than concerns about the nominee’s credentials and experience.

“The President’s view is that it is long past time to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court, and that it, again, reflects challenges or deficiencies in the past processes,” Psaki said, according to a White House transcript.

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