President Joe Biden picked his vice president solely based on her race and gender. Now he might duplicate that process to fill a Supreme Court vacancy to hold up his end of an election deal.
Biden reportedly promised Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) he’d choose a black woman for the high court in exchange for his endorsement during the 2020 presidential election, Fox News reported. A vacancy is imminent after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement Wednesday.
During the Democratic primary, when Biden was off to a rocky start, he was desperate for Clyburn’s endorsement to shore up his support in South Carolina. Clyburn, who is the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House majority whip, would only get behind the then-candidate if he promised to name a black woman to the court.
Biden agreed but demurred from saying anything about it during his debates. Then, on the night of Feb. 25, 2020, Clyburn made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “So Clyburn gets up from his seat in the debate hall in the audience, and he makes a beeline for the exit,” Jonathan Allen, who co-authored the book election postmortem book “Lucky” with fellow journalist Amie Parnes, said last year on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.
“He says, ‘Look, I told you that I wanted you to say that you were going to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court. You haven’t done it yet. You’ve had a bunch of opportunities. Don’t you dare leave this stage without doing it.'” Allen recounted the conversation between Clyburn and Biden.
It turns out that’s exactly what Biden did after that encounter while ostensibly answering a question about his personal philosophy. “Everyone should be represented,” Biden said on the debate stage.
“The fact is, what we should be doing — we talked about the Supreme Court. I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get every representation. Not a joke,” Biden promised.
It would be nice if Biden just chose someone based on his or her actual qualifications rather than such trivial attributes as sex and skin color. However, Biden chose Vice President Kamala Harris on that basis, so it seems merit no role in his political picks anyway.