Black women in the vice president’s circuit thank Biden for the promise to nominate black women to the Supreme Court

“We believe it is important that black women show our appreciation to the President for unequivocally keeping his word on this promise he made during the campaign and for putting a marker that says, ‘This woman, we will have her back ‘. ” Karen Finney, a senior Democratic strategist and CNN contributor who helped draft the letter, told CNN in an interview. “It’s also a joy of expression.”

The letter applauded Biden for “seizing this moment in history to lead with a vision of America at its best and ensuring that the leadership of our democracy reflects a diversity of lived experiences at the highest level.”

“Nominating a black woman with the necessary compassion, sense of justice and brilliant legal mind will strengthen the integrity of the Supreme Court by creating a balance that ensures the court is more representative of all Americans,” the letter said.

Biden pledged on Thursday the historic nomination and fulfilled a campaign promise he first made in South Carolina, intervening in a state where black female voters make up a significant portion of the electorate. The pledge helped him secure remarkable support in the state and drove him to victory, but also recognized the wishes of black female political leaders whose power was soaring and demanded that the Democratic Party respond in kind.

“The person I want to nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first black woman ever to be nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said Thursday. “In my opinion, it is long overdue. I made that commitment during the presidential campaign and I will keep that commitment.”

Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, who helped lead the drafting of the letter, thanked Biden during an interview with CNN for keeping her word as “many times with politicians, it does not happen.”

“In 233 years, there has never been one,” Campbell said of a black woman before the Supreme Court justice. “It means that the lived experiences of black women have never been represented on that court.”

Now that their representation has become a real possibility, she and a coalition of influential black women – consisting of a large number of prominent political figures and friends of Biden, who had an overarching role in persuading the president privately and publicly to elect a black woman as his vice president – getting ready for the next one.

Campbell said the letter is intended to raise the names of black women believed to be on Biden’s shortlist of potential nominees who circulated in Washington long before Judge Stephen Breyer’s retirement plans became public.

The White House on Friday confirmed that South Carolina’s U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs is among the people President Joe Biden is considering as a nominee. Other women rumored to be on the shortlist include DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill.
The White House is considering a broader list of Supreme Court nominees

The nomination will give the country yet another example of a black women leader. Despite Vice President Kamala Harris’ groundbreaking election, the country currently has no black governors or black female senators.

“They have exemplary academic background, legal background, is not that all you need?” asked Campbell.

But already some of the potential nominees have been branded as “radicals” by Republican lawmakers who have criticized the president’s promise or cast the final nominee as a “recipient” of positive action.
GOP senator says black woman's Supreme Court election would be 'favored' by positive action

To prepare for the attack, black female leaders seek to set the terms for what will and will not be tolerated. The goal, Brown said, is to elevate women’s character and qualifications.

“Baseline is a highly qualified black woman. We’ve been in this game enough, we’ve been in this nation long enough to always present our best,” LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Georgia-based Black Voters Matter, told CNN . “We’re not going to be in the conversation that we’re proving we’re qualified. It’s a distraction.”

‘Black women take control of the story’

Organization between black women and other stakeholders happens on video calls and phone calls, those involved in preparations told CNN. Information with the backgrounds of potential candidates is distributed, which serves as an education campaign for legions of women and men who are ready to come to the nominee’s aid if necessary.

“Tactically, we know that (Republicans) will throw everything they can at her and make it ugly,” a source familiar with Democrats’ thinking told CNN. They see the Republicans’ playbook to delegitimize any nominee formed in real time.

And that is precisely why it is necessary to have a black woman before the Supreme Court judge, they say, as race and gender have not yet been fully addressed in this country.

“In this moment, black women are taking control of the narrative of who we are as leaders in this country, of what we feel is the lived experience, the expertise we bring to the table,” Finney said.

The women say they have learned from moments in history where black women were up for nominations and went through grueling confirmation processes, such as Loretta Lynch when she was nominated by former Barack Obama as Attorney General in 2014. Or Lani Guinier, whose nomination for assistant Attorney General was ousted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 after Conservatives launched a derogatory campaign against her. And even last year’s nomination of Kristen Clarke for the same position as Guinier.

Donna Brazile, an experienced Democratic political strategist who advocated that Biden should elect Harris as vice president, said the focus should remain on what is actually important to an appeals judge.

“The focus should be on her legal temperament. Judges swear an oath of office, a sworn oath to be impartial. And like other public servants, they swear an oath to the Constitution. Any other conversation is what I call political drama,” Brazile told CNN.

As soon as next week, the White House will begin to reach out and potentially meet with potential candidates, a move to highlight what the president said would be a “rigorous” process for considering “one of the most serious constitutional responsibilities as a president “has.”

Biden has promised to announce his candidate by the end of February, as Breyer has said he will resign at the end of the term. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised quick confirmation hearings, something Republicans have already indicated they want to slow down.

Up to them, the black female leaders would see that it does not happen.

“We urge the US Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility by promptly holding the hearings and bringing your nominee, once announced, to the floor for a confirmation vote,” the letter to Biden read.

“They say the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, but it does not bend by itself, right?” Rep. Terri Sewell, the first black woman from Alabama elected to Congress, a lawyer and former clerk for Alabama’s first black federal judge, told CNN in an interview.

Sewell said she is confident that all black members of Congress will be “extremely obvious in ensuring that the nominee gets a fair hearing and that the nominee’s name is not defiled in the process.”

CNN’s MJ Lee and Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment