I have indicated before and certainly the way I write about topics has given away to many that I am a conservative. I do not use and will never use, for instance, the new journalistic standard of capitalizing “black” and not “white”. I see it as a radical left move…it is either both or none for this writer! My interest was lately piqued by the recent controversy surrounding President Biden’s campaign promise to name the first black female Supreme Court justice. That this controversy is happening is reflective of the times and isn’t merely because he said this. There are claims that it is “racist” to just say that the pick right out the door will be a “black woman” before any other factor. You might say this is pandering to BLM and the “woke” crowd, and I don’t doubt that to some degree it is. However, one should consider this in a historical context. Bear in mind a few things:
- Until 1836, only white Protestant men were Supreme Court justices. President Jackson broke that barrier with his pick of Roger B. Taney, a Catholic, to be chief justice. This was part of why the Democratic Party for over a century could count Catholics as a consistently loyal constituency. However, one could argue here that Jackson did not announce that the next justice he’d nominate would be a Catholic.
- Until 1916, only white Christian men were Supreme Court justices. President Wilson broke this barrier with his pick of Louis Brandeis to be the first Jewish justice. His nomination was contentious due to his social reformist positions, resulting in him only winning the votes of three Republican senators. Anti-Semitism has also been alleged to have been a factor in opposition to him. Once again, Wilson did not announce beforehand that his next nominee would be Jewish.
- Until 1967, only white men were Supreme Court justices. President Johnson broke this barrier with his pick of Thurgood Marshall being the first black justice. His nomination was easily confirmed, with nearly all the opponents being Southern Democrats. This was despite Marshall being a known liberal. However, one could also argue here that Johnson did not announce he was going to “pick a black man” beforehand and just went ahead and picked Marshall.
- Until 1981, only men were justices. President Reagan broke this barrier with his pick of Sandra Day O’Connor being the first female justice and had in fact pledged in 1980 to nominate the first female justice.
- Supreme Court seats have in the past been thought of as the “Jewish” and “Catholic” seats (all justices save for Gorsuch are Catholic or Jewish now), and Thomas’s seat is to this day thought of as the “black” seat as he succeeded Marshall.
The point here is that not only is there a precedent for presidents picking justices based first on certain characteristics outside of merit, but that certain characteristics were assumed to be inherent in the picks of justices before certain aforementioned barriers were broken. You can say such an explicit qualification is historically justified for equity’s sake or you can say making race a qualification, by default or explicit, was wrong then and now. What this matter clearly presents is the growing divide surrounding the concept of equity. I, for one, do not think Biden’s announcement would be a big deal if it weren’t for the context of concerns over the growing cultural influence of radical left-wing “woke” crowd, CRT, and BLM. It would just be viewed as another “first” like Reagan’s pick or it would be viewed as innocuous as Trump’s announcement to pick a woman before he picked Barrett for the Supreme Court. Ask yourself…were Reagan and Trump sexist for doing this? I don’t think opposition is racism here as I can’t imagine the GOP rejecting a black woman as a nominee who had the judicial record of Janice Rogers Brown, who served on the D.C. Circuit Court from 2005 to 2017. What I am saying, incidentally, doesn’t mean I’m going to by default support the nominee. If she’s someone like Biden’s Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen M. Clarke, for instance, my vote would be a hard “nay” were I a senator.