Biden is expected to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – President Biden and his legal team have spent a year preparing for this moment: the chance to make good on his pledge to put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court at a time when continued racism for the country.

The The decision of Justice Stephen G. Breyer to retire will give Biden his most prestigious opportunity since taking office to reshape the federal judiciary, which has nominated dozens of racial, ethnic and appellate court judges. and law.

His promise also underscores how much Black women have struggled to be part of the very small group of elite judges in the nation’s higher federal courts. Wednesday’s speculation focused on a rare group of well-established Black women who have stellar education and bench experience.

The short list includes Ketanji Brown Jacksona 51-year-old judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a graduate of Harvard Law School and clerk for Justice Breyer, and Leondra R. Krugera 45-year-old judge of the Supreme Court of California, a graduate of Yale Law School and a clerk to former Justice John Paul Stevens.

J. Michelle Childs, 55, a little-known Federal District Court judge in South Carolina, for whom Mr. Biden was recently nominated for an appeals court, is also considered a potential candidate. One of Mr. Biden’s top congressional allies, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, told Mr. Biden during the presidential campaign that he believes she should be appointed, in part because of her appearance. came from a blue-collar group, another underrepresented group among federal judges.

Judge Jackson and Justice Kruger attended Ivy League law schools, unlike Judge Childs, who attended the University of South Carolina. And while there were some differences in the backgrounds and experiences of the women, they were all united in being among the relative few Black women, whose type of degree is generally considered to qualify for the Court. supreme judgment.

The first black woman to serve as a federal appeals court judge – an experience that in modern times is often a key credential to becoming a justice – was appointed in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford. By the time Mr. Biden took office more than 40 years later, only seven more had served in such a position.

“If you just look at the raw numbers, it’s a substantial and serious statistic,” said Leslie D. Davis, executive director of the National Association of Women-owned and Minority Law Firms. full. “That makes it clear that we have to do even better.”

Mr. Biden said he hopes the diversity he has brought to senior levels of the federal government will be central to his legacy. In addition to her record as a judge, her decision to choose Kamala Harris as her running mate in the 2020 campaign made her the first Black woman to serve as vice president.

Half of Mr. Biden’s first 16 candidates for federal appeals courts are Black women – as many as all previous presidents combined have been appointed. That emphasis has drawn scrutiny from across ideologies. For Ms. Davis, the key point of comparison is how many former Black women have been appointed to the federal bench.

“It is a story where Black women’s voices are not being appreciated,” she said, “their views are not being taken seriously and their voices are not being heard.”

But conservatives like the National Review legal commentator Ed Whelan pointed out that the number of Black women Biden has nominated is disproportionate to the existing pool of Black women with law degrees.

According to a The American Bar Association’s 2021 Bar Professions Profile, only 4.7 percent of American attorneys are Black and 37 percent of attorneys are female. The report does not specifically address Black women, but does imply that about 2% of American lawyers are both Black and female.

“By Biden’s stated standards of demographic diversity, his first year of judicial nomination was clearly a remarkable success,” Mr. Whelan wrote this month, calling Biden’s record for appointing Black women “extraordinary” while also taking it “interesting to note” that liberal white men, with just two nominations appellate nominees so far, are “major losers”.

Mr. Biden did promise to name a black woman arrives at the Supreme Court at a debate in February 2020, just days before facing his Democratic opponents in the South Carolina primaries, where Blacks make up a large portion party voters. At the time, his campaign was struggling due to losses in his first two presidential runs.

“I look forward to making sure that there is a black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure that we really have representation for everyone,” Mr. Biden said that night.

The promise that helped secure Mr. Biden Mr. Clyburn’s support just days before the party contest in South Carolina.

“I have three daughters,” Mr. Clyburn told Bloomberg. “I think I would be less than a good father if I hadn’t told the incoming president, this is a hot issue in the African American community, that Black women think they have a lot of rights to. to be resolved. The Supreme Court like any other woman, and up to that point none were considered. “

Mr. Biden went on to win the South Carolina primaries, proving his enduring support among Black voters and setting up a winning streak on Super Tuesday a short time later. .

His Supreme Court selection will take place in a country still reeling from the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 and the ensuing mass protests over racial justice.

It will also happen when the conservative-dominated court will this week hear the cases Challenging race-conscious college admissions programsraises the possibility that it might ban affirmative action policies that preserve racial diversity.

Mr. Biden’s political support is particularly strong among Black women. The New York Times’ 2020 election exit polling data shows that although they make up just 8% of the total electorate, they are Mr. Biden’s most failed supporters: 90% of Black female voters voted for him.

And in Georgia, Mr. Biden’s victory was followed by Democrats wiping out a key election pair for Senate seats, giving the party razor-thin control of the Senate – and with it. the ability to confirm judges without any Republican backing.

Several factors led to those close wins that turned the status blue, but one of them was black women’s organization group — most famously Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate who founded a voter registration group called the New Georgia Project — worked to register hundreds of thousands of new voters and encourage them to return. come back.

For Democrats, maintaining enthusiastic support among Black voters, and especially Black women, could be crucial in the November midterm elections, civic activists The owner urged Mr. Biden on Wednesday not to back down on his promise.

“There would be little or no reason for President Biden to miss this opportunity,” Aimee Allison, president of She the People, a pro-liberal group, said in a statement. “It was and could be a defining moment for his presidency.”

Polls show Democrats are pursuing their efforts to keep control of the House and Senate, and Mr Biden has had a rough first year, in part due to his rule. The Senate means Republicans can block much of his agenda, like passing social spending bills and expanding federal protections to the right to vote.

But since the Senate deregulation of judges – Democrats did the same for lower court and appellate judges in 2013, and Republicans have done the same for judges. Supreme Court in 2017 – one party that controls both the White House and the Senate by any profit can appoint life. – Federal judges are appointed, including filling any of the 179 federal appellate seats.

In April, when Mr. Biden announced his three nominees before the appeals court, all three were Ivy League-educated black women, including Judge Jackson. Two of the next 10 appellate judges he appointed were also Black women. And of his six appeals candidates still pending before the Senate, three are Black women.

Mr. Biden decided to use his power to put more Black women on the bench – as well as in district court judges and senior roles in law enforcement – are so variable over the decades that they rarely exercise power in the legal system.

According to a 2010 article in the Howard Law Review by Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the history of black female judges reflects the larger African-American narrative since the Cabinet. war.

“Black women judges arrive at the ‘judicial table’ much later than black men (over 80 years) and also much later than white women (nearly 60 years),” she wrote in the article. newspaper, “Black Women Judges: Black Women’s Historical Journeys to the Nation’s Highest Courts. ”

New York City didn’t have its first black female judge until 1939, when Jane Matilda Bolin was appointed to the Court of Domestic Relations, Judge Blackburne-Rigsby wrote, adding that as the city’s mayor, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, appointed Miss Bolin, he first consulted her husband – a sign of the times and the limits placed on Black women in the court system.

Judge Blackburne-Rigsby declined to comment on Wednesday. But in her article, she seems cautious to view the demographic’s slow rise in judicial power as a matter of numbers.

“Both blacks and women provide an important additional voice to the deliberation process,” she writes, “but that voice is so diverse that there is no particular view of the “black woman.” .”

Even after the civil rights movement in the 1960s, including President Lyndon B.Johnson’s appointment of Thurgood Marshall as the first Black Supreme Court judge in 1967, the accessibility of Black women for the levers of judicial power remains limited.

In 1966, Mr. Johnson also appointed the first black female federal judge – Constance Baker Motley, whom he appointed in the Southern District of New York.

And in the years that followed, Judge Motley was sometimes mentioned as a potential future Supreme Court justice, said Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a Harvard legal historian. published a biography of the judge this week“Civil Rights Queen.”

But Ms. Brown-Nagin, who is also the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, said that while Judge Motley “qualifies for excellence” to be elevated, her political window of opportunity was closed: As a A former civil rights attorney, she is considered a libertarian, and from 1969 to 1993 held no Supreme Court position while a Democrat served as president.

Ms. Brown-Nagin said: ‘This appointment has been a long time coming. Biden is expected to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court

Fry Electronics Team

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