Opinion | When Whiteness Was a Prerequisite for Supreme Court Justices

As Carson explained it, “We need a Supreme Court where we have the best candidates.”

This from one of the most unqualified secretaries of housing and urban development the country has ever had, a man who did not even know the basics of his job. When Representative Katie Porter asked him at a congressional hearing if knew what an REO was (the initials stand for “real estate owned,” a term used to describe property that has failed to sell at a foreclosure auction), Carson seemed to think she was referring to an Oreo cookie. Even after Porter clarified the three letters, Carson was still left guessing what the O stood for, at one point suggesting: “Real Estate e-organization.”

This from a man whom Donald Trump may have nominated to the post only because of Trump’s own constant, problematic conflict of “Black” with “urban,” even though most Black people in this country live in the suburbs.

The irony here is that Ronald Reagan, the Republicans’ patron saint before the rise of Trump, made a similar promise in 1980 when he was in trouble with women for not supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. He promised to nominate a woman – again the word “white” was silent – and that’s how we got Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Carson was not the only conservative making a fuss about Biden and identity politics. Tucker Carlson also railed against the impending pick, saying, “Biden claims that his race counting is essential so that the court and the rest of his administration, quote, ‘looks like America.” He continued, “Of all the lies that Joe Biden tells, this could be the easiest to check. We have the latest census numbers, and we can promise you with dead certainty that Joe Biden’s nominees look nothing like America, not even close. ” Instead, Carlson said, a Black woman nominee will “represent about 7 percent of the population.”

I say, look at it another way.

Of the 115 justices who have served on the bench since 1789, 108 – roughly 94 percent – have been white men. Zero percent have been Black women.

Viewed this way, through the long sweep of American history, the United States has some work to do.

There is no legitimate or logical argument against inclusion. Consciously including racial groups can be one of the most effective reparative remedies for centuries of racial exclusion.

Only when we disentangle the concepts of whiteness and maleness from the concept of power can we see the damage the association has done. Only then can we truly accept and celebrate the power of inclusion, diversity and equity. Only then can representative democracy in a pluralistic society begin to live up to its ideals.

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