The Lead

Black women in the U.S. House push for Supreme Court pick with a civil rights track record

By: - February 10, 2022 3:03 pm

A view of the front portico of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo.,  is leading a coalition of Black women members of the U.S. House in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to pick a Black woman for the Supreme Court — which he has promised — who has a track record of protecting civil rights.

“The appointment of a Black woman justice with an established record of working to advance racial justice and eradicating entrenched white supremacy is of the utmost importance in reviving the Supreme Court’s credibility, and we look forward to supporting the Administration and US Senate in getting this done,” Bush, a Democrat, along with 13 members of the  Congressional Black Caucus, wrote in a Thursday letter to Biden.

Biden said he will name his nominee at the end of the month to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement in January.

“There is not a single Black woman in the United States Senate to vote to confirm the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court,” the House members wrote. “For this reason, we write as a collective to commend you for this historic announcement, and ask that the nominee reflect a deep and abiding commitment to adjudicate with moral and legal clarity.”

Democratic lawmakers who signed the letter include the chair of the CBC, Joyce Beatty of Ohio; Brenda Lawrence of Michigan; Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey; Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Nikema Williams of Georgia; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick of Florida; Shontel Brown of Ohio; Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia; Barbara Lee of California; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Robin Kelly of Illinois; and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

Reports: Supreme Court Justice Breyer to step down

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have started to meet with the president about confirming a new justice. A handful of those senators, such as Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat, are set to meet at the White House Thursday to discuss the confirmation process.

To fulfill a campaign promise of nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, the president is hoping for a 40-day timeline to get a justice confirmed. Only two Black justices — Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas — and one woman of color, Sonia Sotomayor, have served on the court.

“In its 233-year history, all but seven Supreme Court justices have been white men,” according to the letter. “It is no coincidence that the precedents set by the court in its history have largely reflected the perspective and limitations of those appointed to the bench, all the while, eroding public trust and credibility in an institution established to protect our most sacred and fundamental rights.”

Some top contenders include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was vetted by the Obama administration for an opening on the court in 2016; 45-year-old California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger; and Georgia U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, who is 47 and the sister of Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.,  is pushing for the nomination of 55-year-old Michelle Childs, a federal judge in South Carolina who has been nominated to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington. Progressives have raised concerns about her potential nomination, due to her experience as a lawyer who worked for corporations.

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Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.