What was a campaign promise during the South Carolina primaries in 2020, those that removed Joe Biden from the last positions among the contenders to put him in orbit for the White House, has come true this Thursday when the President of the United States The United States has declared that it will respect that commitment and appoint a black woman to the seat that will become vacant on the Supreme Court.
The president has described the need for the place in the highest judicial authority of the nation, which will be vacated after the announcement of the retirement of progressive magistrate Stephen Breyer, to be occupied by an African-American as “long-awaited”. Wanting to make it clear that he had not made a decision on the name, Biden has confirmed that the person he will nominate will be “someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity.” “And that person will be the first black woman nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said. “I will keep my campaign commitment,” he concluded in his appearance at the White House with Judge Breyer.
No name or any specific date beyond that it will be “before the end of February”. Ensuring that the selection process will be “rigorous”, what is clear is that it leaves out any candidate who is not a woman and black. Thus, a series of names appear that analysts handle as eventual judges of the Supreme Court. One is Ketanji Brown Jackson, considered in 2016 for the post during Barack Obama’s second term. A jurist with extensive experience as a public defender, she has just landed at the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and worked as a court clerk for Breyer himself. The other, Leondra Kruger, currently a judge on the California Supreme Court. Both women are young – Jackson is 51 and Kruger is 45 – which offers the possibility that either of them, if elected, could be on the Court for decades, since the position is for life.
Breyer, 83, is the oldest member of the Court, which he has served nearly three decades since he was appointed in 1994 by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Since then, Breyer has been one of the most progressive voices on the Supreme Court. In full physical and intellectual capacity, Breyer’s departure falls within a scenario in which the Court is dominated by conservative magistrates, after Donald Trump came to appoint up to three judges.
The approval of a new judge depends on the Senate, where the Democrats now have a majority if they have the quality vote of the vice president, Kamala Harris. They cannot afford to lose a single vote. And time is running against him. The White House would like to leave the post covered before the summer, certainly well before the legislative elections next November, when everything seems to indicate that the Democrats will lose seats in the upper house.
In the entire history of the US Supreme Court, only two black men have worn such a reputable toga: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, who currently serves. A total of five women have sat or sit on the highest court. The first was Sandra Day O’Connor, who came to the Supreme Court in the 1980s at the hands of Ronald Reagan. The second, the legend of feminism and icon of progressive causes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg’s death in September 2020 at age 87 prompted Trump to contrive to place devout Catholic and Orthodox interpreter of the Constitution Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court with eight days to go before the presidential election. Along with Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are in the current Supreme Court, both of whom became Supreme Court justices by decision of Barack Obama.
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For months, progressive groups such as Demand Justice have asked Breyer to retire so that Biden can nominate a substitute, taking advantage of the fact that the Democratic Party dominates the Senate, on which the confirmation of the Supreme Court justices depends. Last year, members of Demand Justice rode a truck through the streets outside the high court building with a large sign that read: “Breyer retire. It’s time for a black woman to get to the Supreme Court.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.