Black Voters Matter co-founders Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown and Black Voters Matter legal director April Albright issued this statement after President Biden announced the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer:
Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement opens up a rare and remarkable opportunity to make history on the Supreme Court bench. On the campaign trail, President Biden as part of his pitch to Black voters promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court – which would be a first in the 233-year history of the Court. With this news of Justice Breyer’s retirement and with Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate, President Biden can now make that promise a reality. Democratic control of the Senate, which would not be possible without Black voters, means that this nomination can move through even without any Republican support.
The stakes are higher than ever. In recent years, the Court’s conservative supermajority has handed down dangerous rulings that gutted the Voting Rights Act, weakened workers’ rights, undermined health care access, and upended the criminal legal system. And with the Court now taking up the issues of reproductive justice and affirmative action, these conservative justices are positioned to do even more harm to Black voters, who are disproportionately impacted by these issues.
Today, we should reject expediency, convenience and the mythical expectation of “bipartisanship” to avoid the same mistake made with Clarence Thomas, who was supported by a broad range of people because he previously worked for the EEOC, but has been an enemy to Black people since his appointment.
The White House should seriously consider attorneys like Sherrilyn Ifill, Krysten Clarke, and others who have earned national reputations for outstanding legal scholarship and the demonstrated commitment to civil rights, workers rights, and voting rights. Just as judicial experience was not a requirement for Chief Justices such as Earl Warren and William Rehnquist, as well as 43% of all Justices, it should not be a requirement for this nomination
Whomever he nominates, President Biden must use every tool at his disposal to support his pick and to ensure that she is swiftly confirmed and seated. He must also remind Democratic Senators that his announcement to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court is no different than Ronald Reagan’s and even Donald Trump’s commitments to appoint women when they had the power to do so. Thus far President Biden has kept his promise to increase the representation of Black jurists to the Federal District and Appellate Courts. An appointment of a Black Woman, who has a record of supporting civil rights and voting rights, to the highest court of this country will further solidify the promises he made on the campaign trail.