Biden promises to pick a Black woman to replace Justice Bryer. The backlash is swift and brutal.
A reminder of the time Chicago's mayor gave a Black reporter an exclusive interview.
REUTERS — There is a narrow window to replace the 83-year-old Breyer. In November's elections, Republicans could regain control of the Senate. The chamber is tied 50-50, with Democrats holding the majority thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris' deciding vote.
Out on the 2020 campaign debate trail, President Biden issued a promise. “We talked about the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court…” Now that liberal Justice Stephen Breyer is apparently retiring at the end of his term in June, Biden will get a chance to keep that promise — or not.
If he does, I’m anticipating the mother of all filibusters by Republican senators even though such an appointment will pose little threat to their right-wing super-majority on the Court for years to come unless Biden is willing and able to expand the Court.
Why? Not only because they have already committed themselves to stonewall any and all of the Democrats’ meek civil rights agenda until they can regain their senate majority, but also to dog-whistle their MAGA base behind their staked-out position as the unbending party of white supremacy.
Whoever Biden’s nominee, no matter how distinguished or qualified, the Trump Party, minus a few Republican defectors, will paint her as an inferior choice, chosen only for the color of her skin, and declare the appointment as an act of “reverse discrimination” using the same racist dog whistles they’ve used to attack the voting-rights bills and their alleged teaching of “critical race theory” in the schools. They will also likely find at least two Democratic allies at their disposal in Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
To his credit, Biden has already nominated a diverse array of judges to the federal bench. He’s had 40 district and appellate judges confirmed by the Senate in 2021—the most for a new president in decades. His nominees included the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on a federal circuit and first Muslim American federal judge, and he has named more Black women to circuit courts than any of his predecessors.
Some old-line Republicans, the kind that Biden was counting on to bipartisan with him when he was first elected, are predicting an easy, “boring” route to the nomination. They fear a bloody battle will only help the Democrats in the upcoming elections. I predict that they’re wrong — out of touch with the Party’s current MAGA base.
Almost as if to make my point, last night on Fox News, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson were already labeling Biden’s promise as “tribal warfare”, “identity politics”, and “unconstitutional discrimination.”
Fox host Tomi Lahren went lower, saying,
"We saw how well that worked out with Kamala Harris, but here's to hoping he has a better choice in mind for this position."
All this brings to mind the time Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she would grant an exclusive interview on the occasion of her second year in office, to a Black reporter. The old City Hall press corps went ballistic and the mayor’s choice got local NBC news anchor Mary Ann Ahern to ask (seriously), ‘Does [Mayor Lightfoot] think I’m racist? Is that what she’s saying?’
Tribune reporter and Guild Prez Greg Pratt claimed that political leaders shouldn't be allowed to choose who they give interviews to. His then-colleague at the Trib, John Kass simply referred to Lightfoot as "Mayor Wokeness." Retired CBS newsman, Jay Levine, also writing in the Trib, accused her of “playing the race card.” How original.
The interview even riled up the hate-mongers at the national level, from Trump to Tucker Carlson ("Lightfoot is a 'Nazi' and a "monster"), Ted Cruz crying "reverse racism" to Tulsi Gabbard, who charged Lightfoot with “anti-white racism.”
I admit I was slightly taken aback by all the racist venom being spewed over what should have been an inconsequential interview. But now, I take it for granted that Biden’s choice of a Black woman jurist to succeed Justice Breyer will produce an even more intense backlash. ###
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