The usual right-wing bloviators and noisemakers are throwing hissy fits about President Joe Biden’s intention to name a Black American woman to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. Their predictable complaints are both laughable and hypocritical.
Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson charges that Biden has obviously given up on caring about the law, so the president may as well appoint George Floyd’s sister to the court. Floyd, of course is the Black Minneapolis man who was choked to death by a cop two summers ago.
Carlson’s compatriot at Fox, Sean Hannity, is alleging that Biden’s choice may be illegal because, by his interpretation, it is an act of affirmative action that excludes other well-qualified candidates. Maybe Hannity should take the case to the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority might side with him. (And speaking of preferential treatment, were not all those conservatives put on the court, not simply because of their credentials, but because they were favored over well-qualified candidates who did not share their political leanings?)
Besides being sadly amusing, the comments being spouted by Carlson, Hannity and the rest of the right-wing media conveniently and hypocritically ignore history. While condemning Biden for making his pending nominee’s gender and race explicit criteria for his choice, they gloss over the fact that their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, made a campaign pledge in 1980 to appoint a woman to the high court and their demigod, Donald Trump, announced his intention to appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Could it possibly be that Carlson, Hannity and friends are mostly troubled by the fact that the woman Biden plans to appoint will not be white?
Biden’s critics claim to be upholding the principle that race and gender have never been and never should be factors in picking a justice for the court. Somehow, following that principle, 95% of the 115 jurists who have been chosen have been white men. Some might insist that such an imbalance was not intentional, that it was simply the result of there being so few non-white, non-male judges to choose from for most of American history. But that is precisely the justification for Biden’s choice.
No, appointments to the court should not become a politically correct process of doling out slots to every aggrieved identity group in the country, but, given the fraught history Black Americans have experienced with America’s judicial system (can you say Dred Scott?), it is not hard to make the case that adding the perspective of a highly qualified Black woman to the court is far more than tokenism.
Now that our country has progressed beyond the centuries of discrimination that discouraged women and non-whites from pursuing legal careers, there are numerous exceptionally qualified jurists to choose from who are not white and male. Announcing that it is time to reach into that pool of talent and broaden the viewpoints on the court is far from a radical idea. It is an idea whose time has come.
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