WASHINGTON — The White House on Saturday issued a forceful rebuke to a U.S. senator from Mississippi who said President Joe Biden’s promise to pick a Black woman for the Supreme Court would ensure that the nominee is a “beneficiary” of affirmative action.

The comments from Republican Sen. Roger Wicker came Friday during a wide-ranging radio interview, in which he bemoaned the “left-wing judge” that Biden is likely to nominate to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Asked by host Paul Gallo on SuperTalk Mississippi Radio about Biden’s vow to nominate a Black woman, Wicker acknowledged the president was fulfilling a campaign promise.

“The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very same time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination, while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota,” Wicker said, in comments first reported by the Mississippi Free Press.

“The majority of the court may be saying writ large that it’s unconstitutional. We’ll see how that irony works out,” he said, adding that whoever Biden nominates “will probably not get a single Republican vote.”

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On Saturday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that Biden’s promise to elevate a Black woman to the highest U.S. court “is in line with the best traditions of both parties and our nation.” Bates noted that Ronald Reagan had pledged during his presidential campaign to send the first woman to the court, saying that it “symbolized” the American ideal that “permits persons of any sex, age, or race, from every section and every walk of life to aspire and achieve in a manner never before even dreamed about in human history.”


Reagan selected Sandra Day O’Connor for a vacancy in 1981. She served on the Supreme Court until 2006.

“While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decisions except one: 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,” Biden said on Thursday at an event marking Breyer’s retirement. “It’s long overdue, in my view.”

The White House said Saturday that Biden had already established a strong track record in dozens of judicial appointments, choosing “extraordinarily qualified and groundbreaking nominees.” And, Bates said, when President Trump lived up to his promise to pick a woman for the Supreme Court by nominating Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, Wicker backed her selection and said he hoped she would be “an inspiration” to his five granddaughters.

“We hope Senator Wicker will give President Biden’s nominee the same consideration he gave to then-Judge Barrett,” Bates said.

Wicker’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry Saturday about his comments.

In the radio interview Friday, Wicker expressed unease about Breyer’s replacement, saying, “We’re going to go from a nice, stately, left-wing liberal, to someone who’s probably more in the style of Sonia Sotomayor.”

But, he added, elections have consequences, particularly when it comes to the Supreme Court. “For those people who vote Republican and just a little uncomfortable voting for Trump last time because they had a problem with his demeanor, this is what you get,” he said. “We’ll have 30 years of a left-wing judge.”